Nigeria asks UN panel to blacklist Boko Haram
Nigeria asks UN panel to blacklist Boko Haram
If there is no objection by the 15-member council committee, which operates by consensus, Boko Haram will be sanctioned as of 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) on Thursday. The sanctions would include an international asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.
Until recently, Nigeria had been reluctant to seek international assistance to combat Boko Haram.
Boko Haram kidnapped more than 250 girls from a secondary school in Chibok in remote northeastern Nigeria on April 14 and has threatened to sell them into slavery. Eight other girls were taken from another village earlier this month.
In a letter to the committee, the Nigerian mission to the United Nations said the Boko Haram listing request had been “necessitated by the recent upsurge in its activities, particularly in northeast Nigeria.”
“Difficult to object to such a request by the concerned country,” said one of council diplomat.
The draft UN listing entry describes Boko Haram as an affiliate of Al-Qaeda and the Organization of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
“Boko Haram has maintained a relationship with the Organization of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb for training and material support purposes,” according to the draft narrative summary accompanying the proposed listing.
“For example, Boko Haram gained valuable knowledge on the construction of improvised explosive devices from AQIM. A number of Boko Haram members fought alongside Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Mali 2012 and 2013 before returning to Nigeria with terrorist expertise,” it said.
Diplomats did not expect any objections to the blacklisting of Boko Haram, but said the expedited three-day time frame for approval by governments could be too tight for some members.
While Russia was not expected to object, diplomats warned that Moscow could ask for more time to review the request. If that were to occur, diplomats said there was only likely to be a brief delay in listing the group.
The Russian mission to the United Nations did not have an immediate response when queried by Reuters.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday while Washington does not regard Boko Haram as being part of core Al-Qaeda, “we have long had ... indications of some limited assistance to Boko Haram from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb including funds and training.”
Nigeria’s UN request also references a bomb attack on the United Nations’ Nigeria headquarters on Aug. 26, 2011 that killed 24 people and a Christmas Day 2011 bombing of a church in Madalla, on the outskirts of Abuja, that killed 37 people.
“Since summer 2012, Boko Haram has undertaken a campaign of violence against Nigerian schools and students,” the draft narrative summary states, referencing attacks in 2013 and 2014.
Boko Haram’s five-year-old insurgency is aimed at reviving a medieval Islamic caliphate in modern Nigeria, whose 170 million people are split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims. The group is becoming, by far, the biggest security threat to Africa’s top oil producer.
“In a statement released in November 2012, (Boko Haram’s leader) Abubakar Shekau expressed Boko Haram’s solidarity with Al-Qaeda affiliates in Afghanistan, Iraq, North Africa, Somalia and Yemen,” the draft UN narrative summary states.
Earlier this month, the UN Security Council threatened to take action against the insurgents, and the US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power urged the body to work quickly to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist group.
Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language means broadly “Western education is sinful,” is loosely modeled on the Taleban movement in Afghanistan.
First female CIA director Gina Haspel is sworn in
- Gina Haspel was confirmed by the Senate last week in a 54-45 vote, despite the deep reservations of some lawmakers about her past involvement in the torture of terror suspects in the post-9/11 era.
- Trump paid tribute to Haspel as “a very special person” who was uniquely qualified to lead “the most elite intelligence professionals on the planet Earth.”
WASHINGTON: Veteran CIA officer Gina Haspel was sworn in as the agency’s first female director Monday, hailing the “heroines” who had gone before her and expressing hope she and her team would be “role models.”
The 61-year-old Haspel, a Russia specialist who spent her career in the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine service, takes over from Mike Pompeo, whom Trump recently made his secretary of state.
Haspel was confirmed by the Senate last week in a 54-45 vote, despite the deep reservations of some lawmakers about her past involvement in the torture of terror suspects in the post-9/11 era.
“I stand on the shoulders of heroines who never sought public acclaim, but served as inspirations to the generations that came after them,” Haspel said after being sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence and introduced by President Donald Trump.
“I would not be standing before you today if not for the remarkable courage and dedication displayed by generations” of women officers, she said at CIA headquarters in Virginia.
“In roles both large and small,” Haspel said they “challenged stereotypes, broke down barriers and opened doors for the rest of us.”
“I am deeply indebted to them and I am extremely proud to follow in their footsteps and to carry on their extraordinary legacy.”
Haspel added: “I want the current CIA leadership team to be role models and mentors for our next generation of officers.”
She joked about her bruising confirmation hearing, which dug into her work overseeing a secret “black site” prison in Thailand.
It was there that Al-Qaeda suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri were water-boarded, an interrogation technique subsequently condemned as torture.
“It has been nearly 50 years since an operations officer rose up through the ranks to become the director and after the experience of the last two months, I think I know why that is,” she told officers and invited guests.
In his introductory remarks, Trump paid tribute to Haspel as “a very special person” who was uniquely qualified to lead “the most elite intelligence professionals on the planet Earth.”
“Our enemies will take note: Gina is tough. She is strong. And when it comes to defending America, Gina will never, ever back down,” Trump said.
The president largely avoided the controversies swirling around his presidency, including his allegations, just hours earlier, that former CIA director John Brennan was behind the investigation into his campaign’s dealings.
Trump however angered some former CIA officers with his decision to thank “courageous” Congressman Devin Nunes.
A Trump supporter, Nunes has demanded documents about the investigation into Team Trump, but which the intelligence community says risks exposing sources.
Former intelligence officer David Priess said Trump’s comment about Nunes was “disgusting.”
“I can’t imagine this comment goes over well-but, unlike the president, IC officials are respectful enough not to make a scene,” Priess said.