(CNSNews.com) – Testifying on Capitol Hill this week, the State Department’s top official for Africa defended the decision not to designate Boko Haram as a “foreign terrorist organization” (FTO) – but then used the term “terrorist organization” in reference to the Nigerian Islamist group.
A Nigerian Christian leader criticized the move, saying failure to designate Boko Haram as an FTO emboldened the group and signaled that its targeting of Christians was acceptable.
The administration on June 21 listed three Boko Haram leaders as “specially designated global terrorists” (SDGTs) but stopped short to designating the group as an FTO under U.S. law, a step some Republican lawmakers have long been urging.
Individuals and entities listed as SDGTs have any assets they may hold in the U.S. frozen, and Americans are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. [...]
“To an outside observer it may appear as though Boko Haram is not a monolithic group, that it is fragmented and disorganized, but I am here today to give you the Nigerian perspective,” Oritsejafor said. “Since its creation, the Boko Haram network has never hidden its agenda or intentions.
“Boko Haram has openly stated that they reject the Nigerian state and its constitution and seek to imposeshari’a law,” he continued. “To this end, Boko Haram has waged a systematic campaign of terror and violence.”
“They seek an end to Western influence and a removal of the Christian presence in Nigeria,” he added.
Oritsejafor, a Pentecostal pastor, said by not designating Boko Haram as an FTO, the U.S. was sending “a very clear message” to the Nigerian government and the rest of the world that the killing of innocent Christians as well as Muslims who reject the group’s ideology is acceptable.
“It is hypocritical for the United States and the international community to say that they believe in freedom and equality, when their actions do not support those who are being persecuted,” Oritsejafor said.