Despite Nigeria’s Opposition, US to Name Boko Haram ‘International Terrorists’

Justice Dept Letter Seen Tipping the Balance

The Nigerian government’s very public opposition has been brushed aside, and the Obama Administration is planning to name Boko Haram, a militant faction based in Nigeria, to its list of “foreign terrorist organizations.”

The decision, which is expected to be announced Thursday, comes after heavy pressure from the Justice Department, which argued that Boko Haram met the criteria for listing because it has the “capability” to threaten US interests.

Nigeria has been fighting hard against the label, since they are hoping to calm the situation down with a negotiated settlement, and any negotiation with Boko Haram will be effectively illegal once the US makes the declaration.

Boko Haram has a colorful history, starting as an anti-science faction of Muslims who armed themselves with bows and arrows and scorned the idea that the earth was round as “heresy.” After a massacre by the Nigerian military, the group reorganized with modern weapons and terrorist tactics, and has been fueling major tensions between Nigeria’s Christian and Muslim communities.

The US has been keen to insinuate itself into the situation for quite some time, insisting Boko Haram could theoretically pose a threat if they allied with more internationalist factions. Despite this, the organization has shown itself not just restricted to Nigeria, but to the Muslim half of Nigeria. Whether the new label will push Boko Haram into more ambitious theaters of operation remain to be seen.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of