Us finally names Boko Haram as terrorists after long Christian campaign

November 19, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Boko Haram Nigeria, November 18, 2013: The US State Department has finally designated Islamist militant group Boko Haram and its offshoot Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTOs) after a long campaign by Nigerian Christians.

The decision, which was announced on 13 November, means that the US can now deploy a host of measures to disrupt the groups’ activities: business and financial transactions with them can be blocked; and people suspected of association with them can be investigated and prosecuted.

Nigerian Christians in Nigeria and the US have been lobbying the State Department to take this step for some time. Barnabas Fund has helped them to drive forward their campaign.

Boko Haram is believed to be responsible for around 3,500 deaths in Nigeria since the launch in 2009 of its violent campaign to establish an Islamic state in the North. Christians have been one of their primary targets; last year, nearly 1,000 Christians were killed in Nigeria, making it the most lethal country for Christians. The security forces, government targets, education centres and Muslims who do not support their extremist views have also been attacked.

A Nigerian Christian who survived an assassination attempt by Boko Haram attack testified last week before a joint hearing of two US House Foreign Affairs’ subcommittees. Habila Adamu from Yobe state was shot in the face by masked gunmen who came to his home in November 2012. He had told them, “I’m ready to die as a Christian,” before they fired at him with an AK47.

After he fell to the ground, they stepped on him twice to check if he was dead and, assuming he was, shouted “Allahu Akhbar” (“Allah is great”) and left. Habila’s Christian neighbours were killed. He told the committees:

Do everything that you can to end this ruthless, religious persecution in NorthernNigeria.

In May, Nigerian forces launched their biggest-ever offensive against Boko Haram, imposing a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. But they have not been able to wholly to counter the group’s deadly menace.

The British government designated Boko Haram a terrorist organisation in July, but the US has been extremely slow to do likewise, for which it has been strongly criticised. The Department of Justice, the FBI and the Homeland Security Department as well as several legislators had recommended the move, but the State Department previously stopped short of action against the whole group, naming only three of the groups’ leaders as terrorists.

Announcing the FTO decision, the State Department said:

These designations are an important and appropriate step, but only one tool in what must be a comprehensive approach by the Nigerian government to counter these groups through a combination of law enforcement, political, and development efforts, as well as military engagement, to help root out violent extremism while also addressing the legitimate concerns of the people of Northern Nigeria.



Barnabas Fund supporting Christian refugees from Nigeria in Cameroon

Barnabas Fund supporting Christian refugees from Nigeria in Cameroon

Africa, November 18, 2013: A French church leader who had been ministering in a dangerous part of northern Cameroon has been abducted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

Georges Vandenbeusch (42) was seized in Ngutchewe in the Koza region near the border withNigeria on the night of 13 November.

A group of 10-20 armed men kidnapped the minister from his home, firing into the air as they fled the scene on motorbikes.

The militants also broke into and raided a Christian compound, taking a number of valuables.

Boko Haram, which is waging a brutal campaign to establish an Islamic state in neighbouring NorthernNigeria, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, saying that it was a protest against the detention of its fighters in Cameroon. The violence has been spilling over into northern Cameroon; Koza deputy prefect Ouhe Kolande said that Boko Haram has been attacking Christians in the area for some time.

Mr Vandenbeusch, who was described by a senior church leader as “a popular personality”, had been warned about the danger but had chosen to stay to continue his ministry.

An expatriate French family with four young children had been kidnapped at gunpoint in the area in February and held for two months.

Despite the climate of increasing volatility in northern Cameroon, Christians from NorthernNigeria have been fleeing there to escape even worse violence by Boko Haram in their homeland.

An attack on Sunday (17 November) in the Gwoza hills, Borno state, which borders Cameroon, prompted another exodus of Christian villagers. Four Christians were killed and two churches and several homes burnt down in Ngoshe Sama. This incident followed an attack on 14 November in which around 300 gunmen descended on Gava in the Gwoza region and torched churches and numerous Christian homes.

Over 2,000 Christians have fled Gwoza, which has been relentless targeted by Boko Haram.

Mr Vandenbeusch was ministering among Nigerians who had fled to northern Cameroon, which is mostly inhabited by Muslims.

Barnabas Fund is also helping the refugees there; our partner has requested prayer for church leaders in the area following the abduction of Mr Vandenbeusch.

Converts from Islam to Christianity are also especially vulnerable. Two were shot dead in a targeted attack earlier this year.

– barnabas team


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