World Bulletin/News Desk
The State Department will formally designate the Nigerian group Boko Haram as a "foreign terrorist organization" on Wednesday, congressional sources and others briefed on the matter said.
The designation is significant because it directs U.S. law enforcement and regulatory agencies to block business and financial transactions with Boko Haram.
The move makes it a crime under U.S. law to provide "material support" to the group. A State Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In May, President Goodluck Jonathan increased a military campaign against Boko Haram. His government said last week that it has killed 70 civilians.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee, which a source said has been notified of the decision, has scheduled a hearing on the group for Wednesday.
"The likelihood of more hearings on this issue may have been a final straw in encouraging the State Department to acknowledge something which has been apparent for some time - the growing relationship between Boko Haram and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," said U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, a Pennsylvania Republican who convened his own hearing on the issue.
Meehan chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee, not a Foreign Affairs committee, and has not been briefed by the State Department. "Boko Haram is of growing influence and of major concern," he said.
Last year, the Justice Department's senior top national security official, Lisa Monaco, sent a letter to the State Department arguing that Boko Haram met the criteria to be listed as a "foreign terrorist" group because, she said, it either engages in terrorism that threatens the United States or has a capability or intent to do so.
Monaco is now President Barack Obama's top White House counter-terrorism advisor.
Although the State Department later designated three alleged Boko Haram leaders as terrorists, it stopped short of a more sweeping declaration against the organization.
Last Mod: 13 Kasım 2013, 11:06