First on CNN: U.S. to designate Boko Haram a terror group
A poster displayed along the road shows photograph of Imam Abubakar Shekau, leader of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, declared wanted by the Nigerian military with $320,471 reward for information that could lead to his capture in northeastern Nigeria town of Maiduguri May 1, 2013.
November 12th, 2013
06:42 PM ET

First on CNN: U.S. to designate Boko Haram a terror group

By Elise Labott

The State Department will designate Boko Haram, a Nigeria-based extremist group with ties to al Qaeda, and Ansaru, an offshoot, as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, U.S. officials told CNN.

The move enables the United States to freeze assets, impose travel bans on known members and affiliates, and prohibit Americans from offering material support.

The United States says Boko Haram has killed thousands since 2009. Human rights groups put the figure at more than 3,000.

Boko Haram, which means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa-Fulani language, has launched a self-described "war on Christians" and seeks to impose a strict version of Sharia law across northeastern Nigeria, if not the entire country.
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Harman: Who’s out there trying to do us harm?
October 17th, 2013
12:03 PM ET

Harman: Who’s out there trying to do us harm?

Editors Note: Jane Harman is director, president and chief executive officer of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She was a nine-term congresswoman from California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee from 2002 to 2006, and a principal coauthor of the Intelligence Reform Law of 2004 and the FISA Amendments of 2008.

By Jane Harman, Special to CNN

The October 5 takedown of Nazih Abdul Hamed al Ruqai – an alleged perpetrator of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, a long-standing occupant of the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list, and alleged one-time member of Osama bin Laden’s security team – surprised many.

It was a brilliantly successful operation conducted by our military under strict legal guidelines for capture, interrogations, arrest and now transfer to New York for trial. This process may be the new gold standard for CT operations going forward.

U.S. officials hope he will provide useful information about his al Qaeda colleagues and plots being planned against Western and American targets so we may be able to thwart future attacks.

But while this capture was picture-perfect, al Ruqai was only one of many terrorists currently on the loose.
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Filed under: Al Qaeda • AQAP • Boko Haram • Libya • Terrorism • Yemen
Why is terror group not on terror list?
A screengrab taken from a video released on You Tube on April 12, 2012 apparently shows Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau (C) sitting flanked by militants. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
July 12th, 2013
05:55 PM ET

Why is terror group not on terror list?

By CNN's Jake Tapper

At least 20 students were killed in northern Nigeria last week when Islamic militants razed their boarding school, prompting British authorities to label the group thought to be responsible, Boko Haram, a terrorist organization.

But the Obama administration has not done the same.

When asked about the attack, a senior Obama administration official said that the United States is "deeply concerned" about extremism in Nigeria, and pointed to the history of cooperation between the U.S. and Nigeria on security issues.

"We are working closely with the Nigerian government to address the growing threat of violent extremism throughout Nigeria," the senior official said, adding that the U.S. also supports vocational training programs to help discourage radicalization and recruitment throughout Nigeria.

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Clinton lays out daunting security challenges in North Africa
Attack on U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya September 11, 2012
January 23rd, 2013
02:36 PM ET

Clinton lays out daunting security challenges in North Africa

By Tim Lister

Much of the focus of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s appearance on Capitol Hill Wednesday was on whether her department failed to appreciate and respond to the risks that led to the Benghazi attack - and whether it had the resources to confront such risks.

And, of course, on whether in the immediate aftermath, the administration characterized the attack candidly and accurately.

But the hearings also illustrated how the United States is scrambling to catch up with new realities in North Africa – and how it faces a long struggle in a new arena of instability.

Clinton acknowledged that “the Arab revolutions have scrambled power dynamics and shattered security forces across the region.”

Looking back to her confirmation as secretary of state four years ago, Clinton said, “I don’t think anybody thought [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak would be gone, [Libya’s Moammar] Gadhafi would be gone, [Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali would be gone.”
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Time to declare victory:  al Qaeda is defeated (Opinion)
June 27th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Time to declare victory: al Qaeda is defeated (Opinion)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of opinion articles about national security by participants in the upcoming Aspen Security Forum. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event which is taking place from July 25-28 in Aspen, Colorado.

By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst

To end World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin demanded an unconditional surrender from the Nazis.  But there will be no such surrender from al Qaeda. The group is not a state that is capable of entering into such an agreement, even if it wanted to do so, which seems highly unlikely.

So we are left with a choice:  We can continue fighting al Qaeda indefinitely and remain in a permanent state of quasi-war, as has already been the case for more than a decade now.

Or we can declare victory against the group and move on to focus on the essential challenges now facing America, notably the country's sputtering economy, but also containing a rising China, managing the rogue regime in North Korea, continuing to delay Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons, and - to the extent feasible - helping to direct the maturation of the Arab Spring. FULL POST

U.S. designates leaders of African group as terrorists
A screengrab taken from a video released on You Tube on April 12, 2012 apparently shows Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau (C) sitting flanked by militants. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
June 21st, 2012
07:53 PM ET

U.S. designates leaders of African group as terrorists

By Jamie Crawford

The United States has designated as terrorists three senior members of Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group in Nigeria whose attacks and those of its associates have left more than a thousand dead.

The State Department announced the designation Thursday of Abubakar Shekau, Abubakar Adam Kambar, and Khalid al-Barnawi as "specially designated global terrorists" under the authority of an existing presidential executive order.

Shekau is the most visible leader of Boko Haram, the State Department said, while al-Barnawi and Kambar maintain close links to al Qaeda affiliates as part of their role in the group.

"These designations demonstrate the United States' resolve in diminishing the capacity of Boko Haram to execute violent attacks," the State Department said in a written statement announcing the designation. "The Department of State took these actions in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Treasury."
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Filed under: Africa • Boko Haram • Nigeria • State Department
May 3rd, 2012
10:42 AM ET

The Osama bin Laden documents

Scores of pages of al Qaeda documents seized in last year's U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden were released Thursday.

They comprise 175 pages in the original Arabic of letters and drafts from bin Laden and other key al Qaeda figures, including the American Adam Gadahn and Abu Yahya al-Libi.

Throughout the day, Security Clearance will be posting new stories here

The Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, published the papers on its website.  Here are the center's brief description of the documents. You can click the links for the English translations: FULL POST

January 20th, 2012
10:41 AM ET

What might Boko Haram do?

From Raffaello Pantucci, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Raffaello Pantucci is an associate fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) and the author of the forthcoming "We Love Death As You Love Life: Britain's Suburban Mujahedeen" (Hurst/Columbia University Press).

After an explosive festive season that spilled into the New Year and growing stories of increased connections to other regional networks, Nigerian group Boko Haram is likely to be one of the main focuses of attention for counter terrorism experts in this coming year.

While definitively predicting whether it is going to metastasize into a global threat, or remain a regional one, is something dependent on many variable factors, some lessons from other regional violent Islamist networks can be drawn to understand better the general direction Boko Haram is going in.

Three groups are particularly useful to look at: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen, al Shabaab in Somalia and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). All three are groups that have a clear globalist violent Islamist rhetoric and varying degrees of connectivity with al Qaeda core in Pakistan. FULL POST