Petition Calls for formal designation of Boko Haram, Ends on December 29
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Jubilee Campaign has petitioned the White House to designate the Nigerian Jihadist group Boko Haram as a "foreign terrorist organization." Boko Haram is responsible for killing an estimated 3,000 Nigerians and citizens of 9 other countries -- primarily Christians -- in the last three years and has acknowledged it has ties to Somalian terrorist groups and Al Qaeda. The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague recently found probable cause that the group committed crimes against humanity. The Petition is available on the White House website for any concerned citizen to sign.
"Boko Haram has demonstrated a vigorous commitment to terrorist tactics, killing thousands of innocents in pursuit of their global jihadist ambitions," said Jubilee Campaign's Executive Director Ann Buwalda. "It is high time for the State Department to demonstrate an equal commitment to truth, justice and the rule of law, by acknowledging and confronting Boko Haram as the terrorists they are."
Earlier this year, Boko Haram called for the religious cleansing and genocide of Christians in northern Nigeria. Since then, the group's indiscriminate bombings have killed Christians, moderate Muslims, and others it considers "infidels." The victims have included men, women, and children as well as soldiers, police, and journalists.
Boko Haram has also threatened U.S. interests and attacked U.S. citizens. At least, two Americans, one a United Nations official and the other a U.S. official, survived a bombing in August 2011 at the U.N. headquarters in Nigeria. The U.S. embassy has continually warned of threats to Western targets and advised U.S. diplomats to be wary of attending religious services. Attacks that took place this year on Jan. 20 in Kano claimed more than 200 lives, making it the highest single-day death toll in any global conflict in 2012.
Despite this the State Department has refused to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist group, claiming that they are mostly concerned with local political ambitions. Leaving aside the fact that Boko Haram's local political ambitions are overthrowing the Nigerian government, ending democracy, and instituting what they call "full sharia law," the sheer number of attacks Boko Haram has carried out on churches and other civilian targets, clearly show them to be a terrorist group with religious motivations.
The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 empowers the State Department to designate such groups as "foreign terrorist organizations." Such a designation would have numerous effects, including the ability to freeze and seize bank accounts, arrest and deport Boko Haram members and associates, and impose sanctions on countries that fund the terrorist group.
"The lack of an FTO for Boko Haram is quite telling, particularly given the recent designation of the Syrian group Jabhat al-Nusra, which has a sparse record of military focused suicide bombing compared to Boko's track record of suicide-bombing primarily defenseless civilian populations" said Emmanuel Ogebe, a legal expert on Nigeria who worked on the petition. "That the State Department could label Al-Nusra after 1 year when Boko Haram is in its 9th year clearly shows that arbitrary political considerations trump evidence or body counts. It is unfortunate that the State Department is playing favorites with terrorists instead of responding to facts."
The Petition currently has just over a thousand signatures. We need 24,000 people of good faith to sign and demand truth from their government and justice for the Nigerian people.
Jubilee Campaign promotes the human rights and religious liberty of ethnic and religious minorities; advocates the release of prisoners of conscience imprisoned on account of their faith; advocates for and assists refugees fleeing religious based persecution; and protects and promotes the dignity and safety of children from bodily harm and sexual exploitation. Jubilee Campaign holds special consultative status with ECOSOC at the United Nations.