US Declares Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Group
Earlier this week, the United States State Department announced that it has designated an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Boko Haram has links to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahreb (AQIM,) and is responsible for thousands of deaths in its efforts to rid northern Nigeria of its Christian testimony, and impose Islamic law. Ansaru is a Boko Haram splinter group that has attacked several western and Nigerian targets. “These designations are an important and appropriate step, but only one tool in what must be a comprehensive approach by the Nigerian government to help root out violent extremism while also addressing the legitimate concerns of the people of northern Nigeria. Our assistance and these designations demonstrate U.S. support for the Nigerian people’s fight against these groups,” the state department media note read. Although there were concerns earlier that declaring Boko Haram as an FTO would only encourage extremists to join its ranks, senior State Department officials believe this move serves as an important signal to those who would be interested in joining. The U.S. State Department had already declared three of Boko Haram’s leaders global terrorists in June 2012. According to senior U.S. State Department administrative officials, the U.S. and their declaration came with the support of the government of Nigeria, who had already declared Boko Haram a terrorist organization in August of 2012. A UN aid agency estimates that the Nigerian government’s offensive against Boko Haram has pushed nearly 40,000 refugees into neighbouring Niger. OD’s Africa Director commented, “The effect of Boko Haram’s activity in Northern Nigeria will be felt in the Christian community of northern Nigeria for years to come. Congregations have been adversely affected by the instability and the threat against them. We have been praying for breakthroughs in the government’s efforts to end the Boko Haram insurgency, and believe this important step can strengthen the government’s efforts to end the suffering these Nigerians at the hands of these terrorists.” Prayer Points
- Pray particularly for Christians in northern Nigeria to remain strong in the faith. Apart from the effects of Boko Haram activity on them, they have been facing persecution and ostracism for many years because of their Christian testimony in this Islam-dominated society.
- Please pray for all those who have lost loved ones, livelihood and property as a result of Boko Haram activity. Pray for God’s comfort and sustenance.
- Pray for Open Doors workers who travel across northern Nigeria to minister to Christians who have been affected by Boko Haram violence. Pray for protection, and that the Lord would use them to encourage His children in northern Nigeria.