Nigeria: The Case Against FTO Designation for Boko Haram – Scholars

August 27, 2012

AllAfrica.com on August 26, 2012 released the following:

“BY JIDE AJANI

DOCUMENT

Below is the academic proposition by some scholars in the United States of America to Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The letter was copied to Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Their argument, put forward in strong terms, is that the Jamaatu Ahlil Sunna Lidawati wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram, should not be slammed with the designation of a FOREIGN TERROR ORGANISATION, FTO.

Dated Monday, May 21, 2012, the position of the scholars is frowned at by the leaders of Nigeria’s Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN. Yet, their forceful case against the designation appears to have cut ice with the State Department.

Now, whether the present State Department’s position on Boko Haram is dictated by the prevailing political circumstances in America – the presidential election holds in November and no right-thinking American President would want to create a needless baggage for himself by offending any ethno-religious or social group (the same reason why Syrian opposition elements should not expect the Americans to fully jump into and demonstrate support for them – or not would be seen in the coming months after the election.

Curiously, the scholars throw in the bait of ‘persuasion’ as opposed to the long-held American position of -non-negotiation’ with terrorists: “Should Boko Haram be designated an FTO through this regime, it would be illegal for non-governmental organizations to interact with members of Boko Haram – even if the purpose of such contact was to persuade them to renounce violence”, the letter said. The letter inter alia:

“As scholars with a special interest in Nigeria and broad expertise on African politics, we are writing to urge that you do not designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). We are acutely aware of the horrific violence perpetrated by Boko Haram, including attacks on both Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, whether government officials or civilian targets. We share your concerns about the impact of extremist violence on Nigeria’s democratic progress and security in general.

However an FTO designation would internationalize Boko Haram, legitimize abuses by Nigeria’s security services, limit the State Department’s latitude in shaping a long term strategy, and undermine the U.S. Government’s ability to receive effective independent analysis from the region.

An FTO designation would internationalize Boko Haram’s standing and enhance its status among radical organizations elsewhere. Boko Haram’s recent tactics, including the use of suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices, raise questions about their foreign links.

The network’s focus has been overwhelmingly domestic, despite an August 2011 attack on the United Nations office in Abuja. Rhetorically, some of Boko Haram’s critique of northern underdevelopment and elite corruption is within the realm of mainstream political discourse. But there are clear indications that their tactics and targets have turned most Nigerians against them, including local populations in the North.

An FTO designation would potentially shift the organization’s posture towards the US and validate the more radical factions’ analysis of outsider influence in Nigeria. It would also undermine the Nigerian government’s ability to address the problem through law enforcement and thereby improve rule of law.

An FTO designation would give disproportionate attention to counter-terrorism in our bilateral relations, and increase the risk that the US becomes linked – whether in reality or perception – to abuses by the security services. An FTO designation would effectively endorse excessive use of force at a time when the rule of law in Nigeria hangs in the balance. There is already evidence that abuses by Nigeria’s security services have facilitated radical recruitment.

This was made unequivocally clear in 2009 following the extrajudicial murder of Mohammed Yusuf, which was broadcast across the internet.

That incident was immediately followed by Boko Haram’s radicalization, splintering, and increased propensity for large scale violence. Moreover, the routine use of the military for domestic law enforcement is a cause for alarm in a country with a deep history of military rule, and where formal declarations of states of emergency have historically led to broader political instability.

In publicizing this letter, it is also our hope that the Department of Defense and other concerned agencies will reaffirm the limitations of their roles: informing or implementing policy rather than making it.

Accurately understanding and properly addressing the issue of Boko Haram will require a diplomatic, developmental, and demilitarized framework. The State Department and its civilian developmental partners must be in the lead.

The FTO list system has its origins in Executive Order 12947 in 1995, which was designed to prohibit transactions with organizations that interfere in the Middle East peace process.

Congressional legislation the following year codified a process for making such decisions under the Effective Death Penalty and Anti-Terrorism Act. Once the State Department makes an FTO designation and that entity is added to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list managed by the Treasury Department, it is illegal for U.S. citizens to have any interactions with that entity unless they apply for a license. At least 1.1 million individuals and entities are also on secret lists, according to an audit by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Inspector General. Lack of information about the criteria for being listed makes it impossible to be removed and encourages selective enforcement.

This cumbersome and arbitrary process has made it impossible for some humanitarian organizations to operate in the neediest areas of Africa. If economic development is to play a role in alleviating tensions in northern Nigeria, we should not hamper access by USAID or private NGOs in providing aid and assistance in the region.

Should Boko Haram be designated an FTO through this regime, it would be illegal for non-governmental organizations to interact with members of Boko Haram – even if the purpose of such contact was to persuade them to renounce violence. The US Supreme Court upheld these restrictions in 2010, declaring that such contact would constitute providing “material support” to terrorist groups. Commenting on the threat this poses to the Carter Center, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said this legal restriction “threatens our work and the work of many other peacemaking organizations that must interact directly with groups that have engaged in violence.” It would therefore be illegal for third party intermediaries to play a role in some future peace process or in the confidence building measures required to get there.

Less attention has been brought to the damage that this system does to academic inquiry more generally. An FTO designation would prevent independent scholarly inquiry about Boko Haram, and increase suspicion in the future about researchers with no governmental ties. Public policy benefits from dialogue with public scholars, and an FTO designation would effectively criminalize broad categories of research”.

During a visit to Nigeria in February, former president Bill Clinton commented on the security crisis there by concluding that “it is almost impossible to cure a problem based on violence with violence.” A lasting solution to Boko Haram will require robust political and developmental components initiated by the Nigerian government and broadly endorsed by the Nigerian people through democratic processes that enhance the rule of law. We believe that an FTO designation for Boko Haram would limit American policy options to those least likely to work, and would undermine the domestic political conditions necessary in Nigeria for an enduring solution.

We thank you for taking our views into consideration. Our affiliations are listed for

identification purposes only and do not constitute an institutional endorsement:”

Authors of letter to Clinton

* A. Carl LeVan Peter M. Lewis, (American University) Johns Hopkins University * Jean Herskovits Daniel J. Smith – Purchase Brown University * Adrienne LeBas, R. Kiki Edozie (American University) Michigan State University * Brandon Kendhammer Susan Shepler (American University) Ohio University* John Campbell, David Dwyer, Council on Foreign Relations, Michigan State University * Paul Lubeck, Pearl Robinson University of California – Santa Cruz Tufts University * Darren Kew, Clarence Lusane (American University)University of Massachusetts

– Boston * Laura Thaut, Nicolas van de Walle, University of Minnesota – Minneapolis Cornell Uni versity * Judith Byfield Susan, M. O’Brien Cornell University, University of Florida * John Paden Deborah, Brautigam George Mason University, Johns Hopkins University

*Michael Watts, University of California – Berkeley

Additional names added since May 21:

*David Laitin, David Wiley Stanford University, Michigan State University

*Shobana Shankar, Sandra T. Barnes Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

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OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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U.S. not ready to remove Iranian group from terror list

May 9, 2012

CNN on May 8, 2012 released the following:

“By Jamie Crawford

An Iranian dissident group on the U.S. government’s list of terrorist organizations is showing signs of cooperation, but the United States has not decided whether to remove it from the list, a Department of Justice attorney told a federal appeals court panel Tuesday.

An attorney for Mujahedin-e Khalq urged a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to issue a writ of mandamus, essentially an order compelling the State Department to comply with a previous order, and to make a decision on delistment in a timely manner.

MEK is seeking the enforcement of a 2010 ruling by the same court ordering the State Department to review the group’s status on the Foreign Terrorist Organization list. In its ruling, the District Court gave the State Department 180 days to review the request from MEK to be removed from the terror list.

Robert Loeb, who argued the case on behalf of the administration, said the lack of total unfettered access to the MEK’s base inside Iraq demands more deliberation and time be given to the decision. Loeb argued questions still remain whether “hard core” elements of the group harbor weapons inside the base and thus retain the “capacity” to launch attacks.

Once the base is completely emptied, a decision on MEK’s status could be made within 60 days, the U.S. government has said. In court, Loeb stipulated that 60-day period could be subject to extension based on anything learned within that period.

The group has been on the terror list since 1997 because of the deaths of Americans during the 1970s. The group was granted refuge in Iraq by Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. The MEK supports the overthrow of the Iranian theocracy.

The Obama administration has argued it needs to assess the MEK’s move from its previous base of operations at Camp Ashraf in Iraq to a processing center at a former U.S. base in Iraq before making its decision. The move is being conducted under U.N. auspices after the Iraqi government ordered the camp closed at the end of 2011.

Mark Toner, deputy State Department spokesman, released a statement this past weekend praising the “continued cooperation” of Camp Ashraf residents. Over half of the approximately 3,000 residents of Camp Ashraf have been relocated to Camp Hurriya, Toner said, with the goal of eventually settling in countries outside Iraq.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Senate panel last year that the way the transfer was carried out would influence the eventual decision on removing the group from the terror list.

Loeb said the administration understands the “duty” to make a timely decision on MEK’s status, but said the administration also has a duty to the public to “get it right.”

The group is also known as the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran.

Viet Dinh, a former Justice Department lawyer representing the MEK, said the group no longer poses a military threat because the U.S. Army peacefully disarmed the group after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The U.S. government treated MEK members as protected people under international law until the U.S. turned over responsibility to the Iraqi government.

Dinh told the court the State Department’s delay in making a decision is a violation of MEK’s due process rights, and liberties granted under the U.S. Constitution.

“The secretary has recognized (MEK’s) renunciation of violence and is legally bound to delist the organization,” Dinh wrote in a filing in February.” She cannot pocket veto (MEK’s) application for revocation of its terrorist status.”

Col. Wes Martin, who served as base commander of Camp Ashraf in 2006 and was present for Tuesday’s proceedings, called Loeb’s argument “nonsense.” Martin, who supports MEK’s removal from the terror list, told CNN he was certain Camp Ashraf has been completely disarmed.

The MEK enjoys the support of prominent high-ranking officials from past Democratic and Republican administrations who speak out against the group’s continued presence on the terror list.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call: mcnabb.mcnabbassociates

           Office Locations

Email: