Request On Designation Of Terror Sect Deferred
DETERMINED to review the US government’s handling of terrorist activities in Nigeria, the US Congress has directed the State Department to submit to both the Senate and the House of Representatives, within 90 days, a report “describing the strategy of the United States to counter the threat posed by Boko Haram.”
A second report — an intelligence assessment — has also been ordered by the US Congress on “the organisational structure, operational goals, and funding sources of Boko Haram,” a specific request made by a US-based Nigerian group of Christians — the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans (CANAN).
However, both houses of the US Congress have also added a Defence Department responsibility to the issue, which, up till now, was only the statutory purview of the State Department.
According to the Bill, which President Obama signed into law on January 2, both the US Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense are to jointly submit the report, which the law says would be confidential.
Observers of US government see the move by the Congress and President as a confidence-building measure and a consensus, amidst criticism of the State Department’s refusal to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organisation, as recommended by other US government agencies like the Justice Department and the FBI.
While the new bill, now enacted into law, does not mandate the labeling of Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO), as demanded by the CANAN, and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), US Congressional officials say it is a step in the right direction since the bill to designate sect an FTO will be reintroduced again in the new US Congress session that started on Thursday.
Two US Congressmen — Peter King (New York) and Patrick Meehan (Pennsylvania), who are playing active roles in the push for the US government to get tougher on Boko Haram, last week assured CANAN officials that the call to designate the sect an FTO would be re-tabled in the current Congress.
The law was one of the last-minute outcomes of last year’s US Congressional session that ended with the Fiscal Cliff agreement.