By Scott Morgan
Recently a Press Event was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. by CANAN (Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans.) There was a specific reason for the timing of this event. It is hoped that the United States will take similar action to what has recently been taken by Great Britain regarding the Terrorist Group Boko Haram. In fact support for Boko Haram is now a Criminal Offence in the United Kingdom. So why is there such a huge disconnect between London and Washington in this matter?
At the Presser the Freedom of Religion advocacy group Jubilee Campaign presented a fact sheet compiling data from the State Department and START that was released during the calendar year of 2012. Some of the findings include:
Nigeria had the 4th number of Suicide Attacks committed around the world.
Of the 57 attacks against Telecommunication sites around the word 38 were targeted by Boko Haram
One Third of the Religious Institutions targeted were in Nigeria. 60% of the 325 attacks on Educational sites were in Nigeria and Pakistan
There were more attacks on religious institutions in Nigeria than there were on Diplomatic Outposts Worldwide. On average 2.56 people were killed in each attack so far this year
The average lethality of terrorist attacks in Nigeria (2.54 deaths) is more than 50 percent higher than the global average.(1.64 deaths per attack)
These numbers are staggering. It shows that the group has no problem killing Christians who they feel are interlopers and Muslims that they feel are not devout enough. However they point to the situation currently on the ground in the Northern States which are currently operating under Sharia Law. These states also mark borders with neighboring states such as Niger, Chad and Cameroon. One of the questions that is causing an issue whether or not Boko Haram meets the criteria of a FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization)
The above picture show areas of Islamist Militancy. It appeared earlier this year in the Washington Post. The AOO (Area of Operations of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria and the region are plain to see.
So what is the current criteria that is being used by the State Department to define a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO)? According to their website This is determined by the Secretary in accordance with Section 219 of the Immigration and Naturalization act as amended. The goal is to Play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business. (emphasis author). There are Legal Definitions that must be made also.
The Group must be Foreign
The Group must be engaged in terrorist activity as defined by section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA, or terrorism as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C 2656f(d)(2) or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.
The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. Nationals or the National Security (National Defense, Foreign Relations or the Economic Interests) of the United States.
The policy that is currently in place sounds straight to the point. Lets see how Boko Haram fits into this criteria. The sticking point right now is whether or not Boko Haram is a threat to the National Security of the United States. One area of concern should be the potential threat to Petroleum Imports from Nigeria and even inspiring or raising funds from Acts of Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. In fact there is belief that Boko Haram is resupplying by sea as well.
Another Concern is Cameroon. In particular the concern should be focused on the Northern Part of the Country.  Earlier in this article there is a Map taken from the Washington Post. That map just happens to place Northern Cameroon in the Area of Operations for Boko Haram. Earlier this year the group did kidnap a French Family in Northern Cameroon
The group also played a role in the Mali debacle as well. By now we know all of the sordid details. A poorly executed Military Offensive in the North of Mali led to the deaths of over 100 troops. A coup by Junior Grade Officers then followed which in turn led to an offensive by a force composed of Tauregs and Islamist Fighters who had just recently seen action in Libya. This action led to the loss of one-third of the Nation to Islamist Forces. After an intervention by a forced comprised of the French and Regional actors which led to the recapture of the lost territory, elections were then held to restore a democratic Government.
It was widely reported that Boko Haram sent 150 fighters to the eastern Malian City of Gao. According to some reports they actually reinforced the Malian Militants who captured the city. In fact they also took part in the fighting when the International Force recaptured the city. In a disturbing report the Nigerian Militants took their weapons with them when the fled to Nigeria after the successful French attack. This means that not only did the group probably receive training from AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb) and their allies but they may have been able to recruit former fighters from the fighting in Libya that removed the previous regime.
The United States considers Nigeria to be a key partner in Africaso what action will the Obama Administration take to support this key ally? In a recent visit to Abuja the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs told the United States-Nigeria Bi-national Commission Regional Security Working Group that in order to achieve its potential as a stable regional leader then Nigeria has to capture and prosecute leaders of Boko Haram. Undersecretary Sherman said that the group offered no practical solutions to the problems that plague the Northern States but seek to capitalize on frustration, religious differences and economic and social difficulties to make the country ungovernable. So how should the US assist in this effort?
It is not a slam dunk argument to have Boko Haram declared an FTO. It appears that the question the State Department is wrestling with is whether or not the Group is an Insurgency using the tactics of terrorism? Or is it a terrorist group masking its actions as an Insurgency? But if its not an FTO why then should the State Department issue a bounty then for senior leader Abubakar Shekau totaling $7 Million? This sounds so much like the way Washington seeks to address a problem it really wants to go away. That is to throw some money at it and hope for the best. But what about the role that Congress can play?
At this time there are two pieces of legislation on the Hill that seeks to have the State Department find that the Islamist group is a FTO. On the Senate side is S 198 introduced by Senator James Reach of Idaho back in January of this year.  The bill calls upon the Secretary of State to determine whether or not BH meets the criteria of an FTO, but not infringe on the sovereignty of Nigeria to combat militant or terrorist groups operating within its borders. Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey who is the current chairman of the House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa is preparing to introduce similar legislation on the House side. There is a trap here. At this time there currently zero Democratic Co-Sponsors. Therefore this could fall victim to the current Political Climate that permeates Washington.
It is obvious that it is in the National Security Interest of the United States to support the Nigerian Government. Defeating this insurgency should be a key part of doing so. So what is the State Department waiting for? There has been talk of Religious Freedom as a key role in US in our Foreign Policy. If so why the silence? or Is it waiting for word of American Casualties from an attack?
Editor Confused Eagle/President Red Eagle Enterprises
Editor Confused Eagle/President Red Eagle Enterprises
 As stated in testimony by former Commanding General of AFRICOM Gen Carter Ham and Former Undersecretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson
 Accessed at thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/thomas on August 16th, 2013