Did Hillary Clinton refuse to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organisation when the FBI, CIA and the Justice Department asked?

Since the kidnapping of nearly 300 girls, Hillary Clinton has risen to the fore of those demanding international action and calling Nigerian group Boko Haram terrorists.

But during her tenure at the head of the U.S. Department of State, Clinton resisted numerous calls from the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Justice and a number of U.S. senators and congressmen to do just that.

On Sunday, Clinton tweeted:

Access to education is a basic right & an unconscionable reason to target innocent girls. We must stand up to terrorism.

And on Wednesday, Clinton called the kidnappings and threat to sell the girls for $12 each, “an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost from the government of Nigeria.”

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The government of Nigeria, itself a human right abuser, may be somewhat behind Clinton’s refusal to designate the church-bombing, anti-education, al-Qaida-harboring terror group on the official list, The Daily Beast Reports: “Several officials said that the Nigerian government was opposed to the designation and [Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie] Carson was focused on preserving the relationship between Washington and Abuja,” Josh Rogin writes.

Early urging from the intelligence community and Congress to designate the group came after the 2011 bombing of the United Nations HQ in Abuja.

Carson was the most vocal critic of placing Boko Haram on the list. Being placed on the list expands the U.S.’s ability to thwart the group through Patriot Act powers, and by cutting off dealings with all U.S. businesses, thereby making it toxic for other countries’ businesses to deal with the group. Designation is not, however, the only means of fighting organizations.

When Clinton was still in charge, the State Department went so far as to lobby against the Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act of 2013, introduced by a number of senators to force a designation of explanation, The Daily Beast reports.

Carson stood by the previous decision to not designate Boko Haram a terror group in a Wednesday press call, saying, ““There was a concern that putting Boko Haram on the foreign terrorist list would in fact raise its profile, give it greater publicity, give it greater credibility, help in its recruitment, and also probably drive more assistance in its direction.”

Ten months into his tenure at the helm of the State Department, John Kerry added the group to the list. The designation cited murderous campaigns against civilians, the bombing of the U.N. building, and ties to al-Qaida — all things recognized by the U.S. government during Clinton’s time as secretary of state.

Clinton allegedly made women’s rights, including access to education, a priority for her State Department.

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As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton refused to designate Islamic State affiliate Boko Haram in Nigeria, which was named the deadliest terrorist organization in 2015, a terrorist group. She not only refused, but she hindered the efforts of Members of Congress who were trying to make the designation.

The FBI, CIA and Justice Department wanted Boko Haram designated but, ultimately, the State Department opposed the designation despite hard evidence from our Intelligence services.

Is that true?

No, this is a twisting of the facts.

It’s true that there was a period in 2011-13 when Clinton’s State Department debated whether Boko Haram should be classified as a direct threat to the US, while the government fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria warned that doing so would aid their fundraising and status. They chose not to until 2013, but during this time, under Clinton and with Clinton’s approval, they did classify Boko Haram’s leaders as international terrorists (2012).

The Justice Dept and others did advise around this time that Boko Haram could be considered a threat to the US. This isn’t the same as recommending that it should be done and doesn’t amount to contradicting the State Department’s judgement as to what was the best strategic move. The policy was led by State Department regional experts and there’s no evidence Clinton was applying political pressure in either direction.

This was all years before Boko Haram were an Islamic State affiliate, while they were almost exclusively active in Northern Nigeria. They were classified as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” that does constitute a threat to the US in 2013, which was also the first year their reach expanded to neighbouring countries (Niger and Chad).

There are lots of fact-checks into this and related claims, the most thorough seems to be this from the Washington Post from 2014 about a closely related claim.




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