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US mulls Nigeria's Boko Haram for terror watch list

The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has killed more than 1,000 in a three-year insurgency, and may have ties with Al Qaeda. Will putting the group on a terror watch list help?

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But in a country like Nigeria, where the military has intervened numerous times into domestic politics, taking power through violent coups des etats, the US knows that its support of the Nigerian military carries heavy risks. In nearby Mali, the man who led army mutineers in overthrowing the Malian government last March, Capt. Amadou Sanogo, received US AFRICOM training in counterinsurgency. AFRICOM and other US agencies subsequently suspended $13 million in aid to the country until further notice.

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Given the US government’s focus on countering terrorist threats, the two pronged strategy of cutting of Boko Haram’s financial support through a “terror watch list” designation, and building up the capacity of Nigeria’s military to combat the group on the ground makes sense. But there are questions about whether the strategy might need some tweaking.

Some civil liberties groups argue that the US’s “no-fly” list, a travel ban for those with supposed terrorist links, has become so lengthy and bloated as to be nearly useless. In February, the Associated Press reported that the number of names on the terrorist “no-fly” list had doubled from 10,000 to 21,000 over the previous year, and the American Civil Liberties Union says that the number of individuals on the broader terrorist watch list is as large as 1 million.

“To be effective, and to be fair, terrorist watch lists must be tightly focused on true terrorists who pose a genuine threat,” the ACLU said in a statement. “The uncontroversial contention that Osama Bin Laden and a handful of other known terrorists should not be allowed on an aircraft is being used to create a monster that goes far beyond what ordinary Americans think of when they think about a ‘terrorist watch list.’”

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Boko Haram itself is operating on two separate tracks. On one hand, it has offered the chance of dialogue with President Goodluck Jonathan – one on one, at a location chosen by Boko Haram, without police guards – and on the other hand, it has announced its intention to resume its deadly bombing campaign.

RELATED: What is Nigeria's Boko Haram? 5 things to know 

Boko Haram spokesman, Abul Qaqa yesterday told Premium Times, that because of a crackdown by Nigeria’s joint task force in northern states against Boko Haram, government buildings would be bombed.

“…we have decided that in the coming days, every Nigerian, especially in the North, including Abuja, should vacate any government quarters or buildings – residential, office, classroom or anything owned by government.”

“Every government building, whether occupied or empty will be blown up. Whoever is caught up in the attacks has his or herself to blame. We have done our best by issuing this warning.”

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