Premium Times (Abuja)

Nigeria: U.S. Group Seeks Highest Terror Classification for Boko Haram

Photo: Vanguard
Boko Haram cartoon

A United States group challenging Islamic extremism, the Clarion Project, has began a campaign to pressure the U.S government into classifying Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, FTO.

The Clarion Project, formerly known as RadicalIslam.org, on Tuesday launched an online campaign to draw America's support and White House's attention to the Nigerian terror group and to treat it as a terrorist organization.

The Clarion Project gained global relevance with a documentary, the Third Jihad, and is using an online petition to press its Boko Haram classification project. The online petition has since attracted petitioners from across the world.

Last week, gunmen believed to be members of the Boko Haram slaughtered at least 28 school children, when they stormed the Government Secondary School, Mamudo in Potiskum Local Government Area of Yobe State, assembled the students, and opened fire on them. A witness said many of the victims were burnt alive by the attackers, while others were shot. The gunmen who also shot dead a teacher escaped without any arrest.

The attack happened despite a state of emergency imposed on the area by the Nigerian government and with Nigerian armed forces flooding the area, to wipe out the proscribed organization.

The school killing occurred less than one month after gunmen, on June 16, killed seven students and two teachers in a government secondary school in a nearby city, Damaturu; and nine students a day later in neighbouring Borno State.

Since 2012, the U.S State Department has been tossing around the idea of classifying the group as a terrorist organization.

In June 2012, the United States named three leaders of the Boko Haram sect, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Jama'atu Ahlis Sunnati Lil Da'awati wal Jihad - Boko Haram's official name; Abubakar Kambar; and Khalid al Barnawi as "foreign terrorists", in the first global move to classify the sect.

Just last month, the U.S officially declared Abubakar Shekau, wanted and placed a $7 million (over N1 billion) bounty on his head. But the U.S is yet to officially designate the group as international terrorists.

"The U.S. State Department has refused to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization," the Clarion Project said.

Boko Haram terror sect has ravaged northern Nigerian cities with bombs, shootings, abduction and other forms of terrorism, killing an estimated 3600 since its first attack in August 2009. The sect set out seeking to impose a stricter form of Sharia or Islamic law in northern Nigeria and end corruption. Violence by the group, which had only religious interest in the past, is traceable to the five days of clashes, in July 2009, between the group and members of the security forces in Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, and Kano states that left more than 800 people dead, including at least 30 police officers.

The police summarily executed the captured Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, along with several dozen of his followers in front of the police headquarters in Maiduguri. Dozens of its members were also arrested.

Boko Haram frequently said its attacks on the government, especially the police, are in revenge for these killings and attempts to set free members incarcerated by the police.

On Tuesday, a Nigerian court, in Abuja, sentenced four Boko Haram members to life imprisonment after convicting them of terrorism charges.

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InFocus

Nigeria: Four Sect Members Get Life Terms

Boko Haram cartoon

In one of the first terrorism cases to be tried in the country, a federal high court in Abuja has sentenced four members of the Boko Haram sect to life imprisonment. Read more »