US mulls `terrorist` designation for Boko Haram

Boko Haram is waging a growing sectarian battle with Nigeria`s weak central government.

Last Updated: May 18, 2012, 12:38 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Washington: The US State Department may designate Nigeria’s militant Islamist sect Boko Haram, as a "foreign terrorist organisation”, a news agency said on Friday.

Citing a document, the agency said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco sent a letter to State Department`s counterterrorism chief, Daniel Benjamin, urging that Boko Haram be put on the list.

In the letter, Monaco said Boko Haram meets the criteria for a foreign terrorist listing.

She added that the militant group has led violent attacks against Nigeria`s "police, politicians, public institutions and civilian population” since 2009.

Boko Haram is waging a growing sectarian battle with Nigeria`s weak central government, using suicide car bombs and assault rifles in attacks across the country`s predominantly Muslim north and around its capital, Abuja. Those killed have included Christians, Muslims and government officials.

The sect has been blamed for killing more than 450 people this year alone, according to a news agency’s count.

Diplomats and military officials say Boko Haram has links with two other al Qaeda-aligned terrorist groups in Africa. Members of the sect also reportedly have been spotted in northern Mali, an area where Tuareg rebels and hardline Islamists seized control over the past month.

Nigeria, a multiethnic nation of more than 160 million people, has seen anger grow over crushing poverty and corrupt politicians in the north, fuelling resentment against the government and the West in the oil-rich nation.

(With Agencies’ inputs)