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Should Boko Haram Be Branded As A Foreign Terrorist Organisation?



Nigeria has kicked against the move by the United States of America to formally designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO).

Boko Haram, which wants an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has been linked to hundreds of killings over the last 18 months. Its enemies accuse it of links to al Qaeda.

However, the Defence Minister, Bello Mohammed opposed this move yesterday. “We are looking at a dialogue to establish the grievances of the Boko Haram. I think the attempt to declare them an international terrorist organization will not be helpful.”

Similarly, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the U.S., Prof. Ade Adefuye said the government was opposed to such a designation because it might subject Nigerian travellers to the kind of intensive search and scrutiny around the world, especially in western capitals and cities after the Farouk Abdulmutallab incident in December 2009.

Ambassador Adefuye in his defence of government’s action, said he feared the likelihood of Nigerians being opened to all kinds of harassments at international airports once such a designation comes from the U.S., including intensive and intrusive body searches.

The envoy said the government would on its own contain the Boko Haram menace as it did in quelling the militancy in the Niger Delta.

Boko Haram, which means “western education is sinful”, has claimed responsibility for months of attacks in northern Nigeria. Its attacks have mainly targeted the police, churches, outdoor drinking areas and more recently, higher institutions and media houses.

“Boko Haram is not operating in America and America is not operating in Nigeria,” said Mohammed. “They are not involved in our internal security operations, so I don’t think it would be of much significance really in that respect. But we don’t support it.”

In the past few days, the U.S. media and western news wire has been reporting on plans by some American federal lawmakers to ensure that Boko Haram is designated as a terrorist organization.

The lawmakers argued that the U.S. and global interests had been attacked by the group, citing the suicide bombing of the United Nations (UN) building in Abuja as evidence of the armed group’s intent to harm American interests.

However, some American scholars have opposed the plan by the U.S saying if it goes ahead to designate Boko Haram as a FTO, it would “internationalise the group’s standing and enhance its status among radical organisations elsewhere.”

Besides, the American intellectuals noted that “should Boko Haram be designated an FTO through this regime, it would be illegal for non-governmental organisations to interact with members of the terror gang – even if the purpose of such contact was to persuade them to renounce violence.”

Reading both sides of the argument, it can be understood that they both have salient points. To brand it as Foreign Terrorist Organisation may internationalise its standing and give it more relevance. Also, it may prevent other parties from having dialogue with them with the purpose of bringing peace. On the other hand, the Nigerian government has really underestimated the power of this group several times in the past which has led to them gaining power and taking the country by surprise with its deadly attacks.

So if branding the group as a FTO is not the way out, what then is? I beg to differ with the Minister’s comparison of the Boko Haram’s deadly attacks with militancy in the Niger Delta.

But then I might be wrong. What is your view on this? Can Boko Haram attacks in the country be contained using the same strategies as the militancy in the Niger Delta? Should Boko Haram be branded as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation?

Please share your thoughts.

News Source: Reuters | Guardian

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at


  1. timma

    May 24, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Our government should act fast and bring the situation under control if not we might not have a say anymore.The attacks are becoming too frequen.

    • seun

      May 24, 2012 at 8:14 am

      timma u know our fg wont let it be classified as such because if they do then usa have the right to come in and investigate everyone involved and the fg is scared they will all get caught and spill their guts on who their sponsors are. So dont be surprised that the fg dont want to classify it as this.

  2. pynk

    May 24, 2012 at 8:06 am

    What is foreign about boko haram? the menace is home grown. The truth of the matter is that the north is poor, the majority have been marginalised for years, and these youth cant see a bright future ahead, so its easy for them to fall in line with such.

  3. idowu Ayo

    May 24, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Yoruba adage says, look before you leap (“igi gogoro ma gun mi loju, atokere lati ye”) our government need to act fast and vigilant to curb this mess. the attack is becoming too rampant.

  4. clairebaby

    May 24, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Please I think they should brand the boko haram as foreign terrorist oraganisation, if it would bring their terrible activities to a halt. Because whether the Nigerian govt likes it or not, the situation is clearly beyond them.

  5. zuu

    May 24, 2012 at 8:52 am

    please they shud be named as a terrorist group cos thats what they are, perhaps that way we will get the much needed help Nigeria desperately needs since all our government is doing is shutting their eyes and wishing Boko Haram away, while Nigerian Police are busy beating up 65 year old men on the road…abeg…lets call a spade a spade!

  6. Laila Ikeji

    May 24, 2012 at 9:10 am

    yea, the attacks r getting frequent. Nig govt needs to dialogue wt dem. B these guys no get conscience oo. their talk tire me abeg.

  7. kem

    May 24, 2012 at 10:00 am

    just get a dammn solution ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  8. Papa

    May 24, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I don’t think they’ve reached FTO status yet but if nothing is done, they’ll get there. Should the FG really be dialoguing with murderers?

  9. ij

    May 24, 2012 at 10:29 am

    For the love of God what does it really matter ? they are a nuisance to Nigeria and that’s what matters , while we are debating what they should be called, they r busy plotting the next atrocity.

  10. baby

    May 24, 2012 at 10:34 am

    pls they should declare them international terrorist since is beyond the fg to stop the deadly act…plsssssssssss..if it will bring peace ..we need peace in this country,one nigeria as usual.

  11. joan

    May 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    pls dey shldnt tag them as FTO abeg, cos dat wld mean dat Nig. wld be constantly visited by western security agents, and dat may escalate the whole problem, imagine the streets of Borno or Kaduna luking lyk iran or Iraq, wit US forces on the streets and all d madness. Boko Haram is a local problem and will get a local solution, besides dey havnt carried out their attacks any where apart frm Nig. so wat qualifies dem as FTO

  12. doppleganger

    May 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    that’s a trick question yea?!

  13. UsaveOne

    May 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Evil Terrorists that is what they are…


  14. TobechiD

    May 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Why not? The Federal Government is obviously too lax in its handling, so let a bigger government, which is better at handling conflicts, handle this matter.

  15. ami

    May 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    simple yes

  16. missus

    May 24, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Boko Haram is obviously all past of the plan…I will advise y’all to just grab a popcorn n watch the movie because they have already planned the end result of all this menace…as far as I am concerned BH aint far from both the Nigerian and US Governments…to find where BH started from, study both Governments…the truth is stranger than fiction and bullshit hole goes farther than we will ever want to imagine…let them keep acting their drama for us to watch…

  17. oma

    May 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    this idiots we call leaders/ representatives can sit fat and come up with these stupid excuses because they aren’t the ones burying loved ones. Come to think of it, aren’t they the ones sponsoring all these mess? they won’t let the US in for the fear of been exposed.! Its all this illiterate NORTHERN LEADERS THINKING nIGERIA IS THEIR FATHER’S BACKYARD….. Let the US in and lets end this mess!!! mshw

  18. justthere

    May 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    All I know is that all countries america invaded ended up being worse than what they were before US invasion. I don’t want the US to turn Nigeria into an Iraq or Afghanistan. America does not care about the welfare of the average Nigerian. All they care about is our oil and that is it. How would you like american soldiers just roaming our streets? Probably molesting and pregnating our women in the process. Boko haram has not attacked any other country other than ours so I do not see why they should be tagged an international terrorist group. Americans are just looking for an excuse to set up an american base on the coast of West Africa and once they come, they will never leave. Let’s be careful for what we wish for.

    • Popo K

      May 31, 2012 at 8:40 am

      The comments that “justthere” is uttering are those of an uninformed and some what scared individual. I would ask that you stop believing everything you read (in your papers of web blogs from only one perspective) or what in so-called informed people are telling you and find out for your self through real study and research with an unbiased opinion the facts of the comments that you are posting. Because on the surface you appear to be one of those weak minded people that I commented about in my post. God speed in your endeavors to find the truth.

  19. naija4life

    May 25, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Yes, we need another involvement outside of Nigerian government because these leaders are not capable of handling anything. They think it’s a joke or nothing serious, when it’s very important. They don’t care about the number of people whose lost their lives, as long as is not affecting them. It should definitely be put on foreign terrorist list, so these leaders can see how what is going on in Nigeria is affecting other countries. Image/reputation is key to how others receive you. Unfortunately, it will affect a lot of innocent people but it is what it is.

  20. NNENNE

    May 25, 2012 at 1:53 am

    They bombed the UN headquarters right? That means they are willing to commit murder Internationally. Why NOt?

    • Abubakar Dabo

      May 26, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Terrorism evolves where a group of disaffected people feel they have been subjucated to such an extent that they no longer believe a political alternative is open to them. But for the clarification of such point, Boko Haram’s grudges are not political, they are against the police. Who for some reason, God knows what; killed its leader. The debate surrounding the reason for the killing still rages. Which for the US and its allies does not bear and have anything to worry about. Terrorists do not kill for the sake of killing. This is not to excuse their means, for which no excuses may be found; it is to discover their reasons. These reasons must be understood, not dismissed, if a genuine solution is to be found. And dialogue is the key to achieve understanding, justice and peace.

  21. Popo K

    May 31, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Yes giving the label of “terrorist group” instead of “criminal organization” will only increase their status among the weak minded people that they are seeking to recruit and could have the opposite effect they are trying to achieve. They (Boko Haram) should be portrayed as insects of society attempting to eat away at the what common citizens see as good and right. The only way to win the struggle against organizations of this type is to influence the populace and remove their support base and change how they are viewed in the public’s eye. All the guns and bombs in the world will not win this struggle only the chainging of the public opinion will and until the Nigerian Government can provide for the basic needs of the populace and remove the stigma of corruption that permeates all its levels organizations like Boko Haram will continue to gain support.

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