The U.S. Department of State must explain to Congress if it fails to designate Boko Haram, an Islamic jihadist group, as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization," or FTO, according to amended legislation a House panel approved Thursday.
The House Appropriations Committee by unanimous voice vote supported the measure, which Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) offered as an amendment to the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill (FY 2013). The panel likewise approved the $40 billion State & Foreign Ops funding bill, which it sent to the full House for consideration.
Boko Haram, which means ‘‘People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad,’’ has carried out attacks on Nigerian Christians, hundreds whom have died in recent weeks. Although Dent did not specify the following, State reportedly not only has failed to designate the group as an FTO, but refers to the conflict between Nigerian Christians and Muslims as a fight over land rather than theology.
He did say in a prepared statement:
In April 2012, the State Department warned American citizens in Nigeria that the group may be preparing additional attacks on Abuja sites frequented by Westerners. Recent intelligence reports also indicate Boko Haram is expanding its coordination with the Al Qaeda terrorist network through a growing relationship with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Although a report would be necessitated under the amendment even if State ever decides to bestow FTO designation upon the group, the amendment specifies that "if the Secretary of State determines that Boko Haram does not meet such criteria, the Secretary shall submit a report with a detailed justification regarding which designation criteria of section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act have not been met."
Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), chairwoman of the State & Foreign Ops subcommittee, as well Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), ranking member of the subcommittee, separately said they had questions about the amendment, but in the meantime pledged to give it their support.
The Dent amendment would require the Secretary of State to "submit a detailed report" to congressional committees with jurisdiction over such matters.
In the House this would include the Appropriations Committee , Homeland Security Committee, Armed Services Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
On the Senate side, reports would be submitted to the Appropriations Committee , Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Armed Services Committee, Foreign Relations Committee , and the Select Committee on Intelligence.
That same day the U.S. Department of Justice reportedly was poised to urge State to move forward with that designation of Boko Haram.
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