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Risch Applauds State Department for Finally Designating Boko Haram as Foreign Terrorist Organization

Boko Haram is a terrorist organization that poses a threat to U.S. National Security

November 13, 2013

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Risch today applauded the State Department for finally designating Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Risch has urged the State Department to do so for over two years.

The Nigerian Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram is officially known as “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad.” It is committed to the imposition of Sharia Law throughout northern Nigeria and rejects Western-style life. Boko Haram militants have carried out violent operations against government targets, Christian churches, and targets they consider to be Western.

On August 26, 2011, Boko Haram detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), which they had crashed into the U.N. headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria. They also conducted coordinated attacks on Christmas Day in 2011, Easter 2012, and frequent attacks against police and military facilities. 

“For over two years I have been asking the Department of State to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” said Risch.  “That is why I authored the Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act of 2013 in January.  This legislation made the case for why Boko Haram is a terrorist organization and should be designated as such.  I am glad that the Department of State has finally come around on this important national security issue.”    

Legal Ramifications of Designation

  • It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide material support or resources to an FTO;
  • Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to and, in certain circumstances, removable from the United States;
  • Any U.S. financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of or control over funds in which a designated FTO or its agent has an interest must retain possession of or control over the funds and report the funds to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

 Other Effects of Designation

According to the Department of State, listing a terrorist organization as an FTO supports “our efforts to curb terrorism financing.” Though not a formal part of the legal framework for FTO designation, adding a group to the list can encourage other nations to do the same. The Bureau of Counterterrorism suggests an FTO designation:

 Stigmatizes and isolates designated terrorist organizations internationally

  • Deters donations or contributions to and economic transactions with named organizations
  • Heightens public awareness and knowledge of terrorist organizations
  • Signals to other governments our concern about named organizations