State Department: Boko Haram designation could have come sooner

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Associated Press

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 1:03 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department acknowledges that it could have acted sooner to designate Nigeria's Boko Haram (BOH'-koh hah-RAHM') as a foreign terrorist organization.

This, even though the Nigerian government opposed the move when it was first considered two years ago.

Boko Haram is the Islamic militant group that has been holding 276 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls.

Republicans are criticizing the decision of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton not to make the terrorist designation two years ago.

State Department officials told a Senate subcommittee today that it's impossible to say if an earlier designation would have had a significant impact on the group.

Senior U.S. officials told lawmakers that freeing the schoolgirls has become one of the Obama administration's top priorities.

But they pointed out that there are limitations on U.S. cooperation with the Nigerian military because of that country's poor human rights record. They also expressed concern about the Nigerian government's commitment to fight the group, and the ability of its army to do so.

%@AP Links

297-a-09-(Robert Jackson, principal deputy secretary of state for African Affairs, testifying before Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee)-"and be counterproductive"-Principal Deputy Secretary of State For African Affairs Robert Jackson says back in 2012 Nigeria didn't want the State Department to formally list Boko Haram as a 'foreign terrorist organization.' (15 May 2014)

<<CUT *297 (05/15/14)££ 00:09 "and be counterproductive"

295-w-35-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent with Robert Jackson, principal deputy secretary of state for African Affairs)--The State Department admits it could have been quicker to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports. ((Boko Haram is pronounced BOH'-koh hah-RAHM')) (15 May 2014)

<<CUT *295 (05/15/14)££ 00:35

APPHOTO NY116: FILE - This file photo taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network on Monday, May 12, 2014, shows the missing girls alleged to be abducted on April 14 from the town of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria. Freeing the 276 Nigerian girls from the terrorist group Boko Haram is now one of the U.S. government's top priorities, U.S. officials declared on Thursday, May 15, issuing warnings about the militant group's expanding reach and growing capacity for more sophisticated and deadlier terror attacks. (AP Photo/File) (12 May 2014)

<<APPHOTO NY116 (05/12/14)££

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