Boko Haram not a branch of al-Qaeda -US


The United States Government has said that the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, is not a branch of the global terrorist organisation, al-Qaeda.

President Goodluck Jonathan had during the France security summit on the menace of the insurgent group on Saturday, described the Boko Haram sect, as the “al Qaeda of West Africa.”

But the US said though terrorists groups around the world were known to have links, it cautioned that the sect should be treated as its “own terrorist group.”

A statement by the US Consul General in Lagos on Monday quoted the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, as saying this on the sidelines of the summit hosted by French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Saturday.

Sherman, who spoke to journalists alongside US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and the US State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator, Tina Kaidelow, said UN sanctions on Boko Haram could be as quick as this week.

She said, “Boko Haram is its own terrorist group, and the United States has designated Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation. In this day and age, there is probably no terror group that does not have some links somehow, even if tenuous, to some other organisation. But for the most part, we treat Boko Haram as its own terror organisation.

“When you have sanctions at the UN, it does do asset freezes, travel freezes, a variety of things. It depends on how the designation is done. But I imagine this will happen rather quickly. Quite frankly, I can’t imagine any country who would not support this designation.”

Sherman added that the US was committed to supporting the Nigerian government in ensuring that the girls were brought back alive.

According to her, the abducted schoolgirls have become “the girls of the world, not just of Nigeria.” He added that all efforts were being put in place to ensure that the West Africa sub-region was not turned to a breeding ground for terror.

Insisting that the American people “are not putting boots on the ground” in Nigeria for the girls’ rescue, Sherman noted that only intelligence assistance would be provided.

However, the senior US official said she was unsure of the Nigerian armed forces capability to carry out a rescue operation in the event that the location of the abducted girls were tracked by the US and other allies.

“If it were to be a rescue operation, that’s a very specific skill set and not every army in the world has that skill set. I know that there are some training, that have gone on with units of the military in Nigeria to build those skills, in other words, special forces skills. Whether they’d be able to attempt a rescue, I think it would just depend on the circumstances,” Sherman said.

Observing that there were many ways to bring the “horrific” abduction to a close, Sherman frowned on negotiating with the sect under the guise of “ransom, exchanges and things like that,” saying the US views on these “are well known.”

On her part, Thomas-Greenfield, said the US was coordinating the joint efforts to rescue the girls very closely with the other teams.

“And the Nigerians have assigned a senior person who is their point of contact, and they’re working very, very closely,” Thomas-Greenfield said.


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