2012: HuffPo Writer Urged Hillary to Designate Boko Haram as Terrorist Organization

May 8th, 2014 11:10 AM

Despite Hillary Clinton's current condemnation of Boko Haram for kidnapping hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls, when she had a chance as Secretary of State to designate it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization she failed to do so as reported by the Daily Beast. That report stated, "The State Department under Hillary Clinton fought hard against placing the al Qaeda-linked militant group Boko Haram on its official list of foreign terrorist organizations for two years."

It will be difficult for Hillary to plead that it was not  brought to her attention as she claimed in her defense of not providing more requested security for Benghazi. The fact is that she was publicly urged to act on Boko Haram, not from some website of the "vast rightwing conspiracy" but on the pages of the very liberal friendly Huffington Post as you can see in this December 6, 2012 article by Joseph Weissman: Hillary Clinton Must Designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Last month, EuroNews reported that the US State Department is giving "serious consideration" to a letter sent by a group of US academics, urging the Obama administration not to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation. The letter is hosted on the website of American University professor Carl LeVan, who is also the letter's first signatory.

As scholars with a special interest in Nigeria and broad expertise on African politics, we are writing to urge that you not designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). We are acutely aware of the horrific violence perpetrated by Boko Haram, including attacks on both Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, whether government officials or civilian targets. We share your concerns about the impact of extremist violence on Nigeria's democratic progress and security in general.

...An FTO designation would internationalize Boko Haram's standing and enhance its status among radical organizations elsewhere.

...Should Boko Haram be designated an FTO through this regime, it would be illegal for nongovernmental organizations to interact with members of Boko Haram - even if the purpose of such contact was to persuade them to renounce violence.

The letter appears to be arguing that although Boko Haram commits acts that other designated terrorist groups commit, labelling it an FTO would increase its standing (presumably only amongst other such terrorists).

Yet surely the point of FTO status is not to worry about how FTOs will react to their label. Rather, FTO status is there to call a spade a spade, and a terrorist a terrorist.

Indeed, if FTO status is to have any credibility at all, then it must be given to all groups which meet the definition offered by the US State Department.

Those who admire Boko Haram, will encourage the group whether it "only" continues to drive explosive-ridden cars into Sunday morning services, or whether it continues to so whilst being able to show off also, that America is calling Boko Haram "terrorists".

It now appears that Hillary Clinton yielded to the academics' objection to labeling Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization despite being publicly urged to do so while she was Secretary of State. And kudos to the Daily Beast and Joseph Weissman of the Huffington Post for their reports.