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Risch Calls for Designation of Terrorist Organization

Legislation Requires Secretary Clinton to Make Decision on Nigerian Group with Al Qaeda Ties

May 24, 2012

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Scott Brown (R-MA), and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) introduced the Boko Haram Designation Act of 2012, which would require the State Department to determine if Boko Haram, a violent Nigerian terrorist organization, meets the necessary criteria to be designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The legislation comes amid growing support from Congress and the Justice Department for the State Department to designate Boko Haram a FTO.

"When the Commander of Africa Command states that Boko Haram is becoming increasingly lethal and forging closer ties to al Qaeda and al Shabaab, that is something I take very seriously,"said Senator Risch, member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "It is clear that Boko Haram meets the three criteria of a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation, most importantly that it threatens the national security of the United States and the safety of U.S. citizens.  I look forward to hearing from the State Department on why they seem to disagree." 

"Boko Haram's terror campaign has attacked international organizations and is responsible for more than 700 deaths in the last 18 months alone,"said Senator Brown, member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. "The Justice Department is asking for the legal authorities to combat Boko Haram and they clearly believe the al Qaeda-linked group meets the legal requirements to be designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization. This designation is essential to giving our intelligence and law enforcement agencies the tools necessary to stop individuals from providing support to Boko Haram in the U.S. and abroad.”

"Boko Haram's improving terrorist operational capabilities—including improvised explosive devices—are a serious threat to international and U.S. interests,"said Senator Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "This group has expressed solidarity with al Qaeda and continues to threaten attacks against U.S. interests. The time is long past to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist group.”

For more information on Boko Haram, please visit the National Counterterrorism Center website:

For more information on Foreign Terrorist Organization designation, please visit the State Department website:

Bill Summary
The Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act of 2012 requires the Department of State to make a determination on whether or not Boko Haram meets the criteria to be designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Such a designation is authorized in section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1198), and must include consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Attorney General.  Should Boko Haram not be found as qualifying for FTO designation, this legislation requires the Secretary of State to submit a report that describes why Boko Haram does not meet the qualifications outlined by law. These are:

(A) the organization is a foreign organization;

(B) the organization engages in terrorist activity (as defined in section 1182 (a)(3)(B) of this title or terrorism (as defined in section 2656f (d)(2) of title 22), or retains the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism)  [1] ; and

(C) the terrorist activity or terrorism of the organization threatens the security of United States nationals or the national security of the United States.