But even as the Nigerian government ramped up efforts to secure the release of the girls from their captors, the U.S. State Department Tuesday designated Boko Haram and five other affiliate groups of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as terrorist organisations, a fact sheet obtained exclusively by THISDAY from the U.S. government has shown.
The U.S. government in November 2013 had designated Boko Haram and the Ansaru militant group as terrorist organisations, making Tuesday’s designation the second time the State Department has branded the Boko Haram sect terrorists.
Highlighting ISIS’ growth outside Iraq and Syria, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday that the move was aimed at the sustained targeting of the group and denying it access to its financial system.
The State Department added that it was part of a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS and its affiliates in Bangladesh, Egypt, the Philippines, Somalia, Tunisia and Nigeria where the terrorists would be affected.
In addition, the department designated leaders and operatives of the ISIS-affiliates as terrorists.
They include Abu Musab al-Barnawi who leads ISIS-West Africa, which changed from Boko Haram.
In March 2015, ISIS reportedly welcomed Boko Haram’s decision to join Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s global network, shortly after Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau swore his allegiance to Baghdadi, said the State Department.
Also then, ISIS spokesman, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, welcomed Shekau and his men into the fold, and Boko Haram shortly rebranded as the Islamic State’s West Africa (ISWA).
A leadership disagreement, however, broke out in ISWA after ISIS publicly named Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new head of ISWA in 2016.
Al-Barnawi is reported to be the son of Boko Haram founder, Mohammed Yusuf, and also Boko Haram’s former spokesman.
Apart from Al-Barnawi, the State Department also designated Mahad Moalim – ISIS-Somalia, and Mahad Moalim – ISIS-Somalia as terrorists.
The fact sheet said: “The Department of State has designated 40 ISIS leaders and operatives under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, and will continue to target the group to deny it access to the U.S. financial system.
“These designations are part of a larger comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS that, in coordination with the 75-member global coalition to defeat ISIS, has made significant progress toward that goal.
“This whole-of-government effort is destroying ISIS in its safe havens, denying its ability to recruit foreign terrorist fighters, stifling its financial resources, negating the false propaganda it disseminates over the internet and social media, and helping to stabilise liberated areas in Iraq and Syria so the displaced can return to their homes and begin to rebuild their lives.”
The State Department said in the fact sheet that it was authorised to designate Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTOs) under the Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order 13224.
“While only organisations can be designated as FTOs, a wider range of persons can be designated by the Department of State as SDGTs – including terrorist groups, leaders, and members of terrorist groups, as well as other individuals and entities that have committed or pose a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism.
“Terrorism designations expose and isolate organisations and individuals, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of U.S. agencies and other governments,” it added.
The U.S. government also imposed new sanctions on Boko Haram and its factional leader, Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
A related report by Reuters said the new sanctions by the U.S. Treasury Department targets the Islamic State and its affiliate networks around the world.
The U.S. Treasury Department added Boko Haram to the sanction list for global terrorism.
Mr. al-Barnawi and Mahad Moalim from Somalia and seven organisations in Africa and Asia, linked to Islamic state (ISIS), were added to the list.
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said the additions include ISIS-Philippines, ISIS-Bangladesh, ISIS-West Africa, ISIS-Egypt, ISIS-Somalia, Jund al-Khilafah-Tunisia, also known as ISIS-Tunisia, and the Philippines-based Maute Group, also known as Islamic State of Lanao.