WASHINGTON, D.C. – An amendment offered today by U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) to the Fiscal Year 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act requiring the U.S. Department of State to determine whether Nigeria’s Boko Haram meets criteria for designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) passed the House Committee on Appropriations without opposition.
“American military and intelligence officials have expressed serious concern that Boko Haram is planning attacks on Westerners in Nigeria, specifically targeting Americans,” said Rep. Dent. “Additionally, we have learned the group is pursuing greater coordination with international terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda. The time has come for this Administration to make a determination on the status of Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.”
The People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teaching and Jihad, commonly known as Boko Haram, is a radical and violent Nigerian insurgency group known for deadly attacks on Christian churches, businesses and government facilities. Recently, however, the group has increasingly targeted Westerners through the planning of attacks on hotels and the August 2011 bombing of a United Nations (UN) facility in the Nigerian capital Abuja.
In April 2012, the State Department warned American citizens in Nigeria that the group may be preparing additional attacks on Abuja sites frequented by Westerners. Recent intelligence reports also indicate Boko Haram is expanding its coordination with the Al Qaeda terrorist network through a growing relationship with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Rep. Dent’s amendment requires the State Department to submit a report to Congress in no less than 30 days following enactment of the bill detailing whether Boko Haram meets criteria for formal designation as an FTO. Designation as an FTO not only increases global awareness of the group’s activities, but enables American authorities to greatly limit its financial resources and enhances prosecutorial tools for law enforcement.
The measure parallels an amendment offered by U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan (PA-7), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, to H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act.