Nigeria (MNN) — A long-awaited decision has finally arrived. The U.S. State Department recently designated Nigeria’s radical Islamic militant group Boko Haram and splinter group Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).
“I guess it’s a little bit disappointing in the fact that it’s taken so long, because the Boko Haram have been going since 2009,” says Voice of the Martyrs Canada spokesman Greg Musselman.
The designation probably won’t affect their work among Christian families attacked by the terrorist group, he adds.
“There’s a lot of pressure put on our organization and other organizations, especially in the area of medical and helping the persecuted Christians there, but in terms of our work, no it won’t affect it,” states Musselman.
“Unless the Boko Haram stops, and we don’t see that happening anytime soon, unfortunately.”
“They want to set up an Islamic state, you know, with strict Sharia law and they’ve got this in their mind that Christians are of the West,” Musselman explains.
“Boko Haram means ‘against Western education’ or ‘Western education is sinful’. They want nothing to do with the West, and they see Christianity, particularly evangelical Christianity, as being American or Western.”
Boko Haram has killed at least 2,000 people over the past four years, many of them Christians.
“I’ve seen figures of 3,600 people who’ve been killed, mainly up in the northern part of Nigeria,” says Musselman. “It’s not just Christians they’re attacking; they’re a very violent group.”
In 2012, the International Criminal Court issued a report concluding Boko Haram is guilty of committing “Crimes Against Humanity.” The ICC’s prosecutor clearly found that Boko Haram has “attacked religious lerics, Christians, political leaders, Muslims opposing the group, members of the police and security forces, ‘westerners,’ journalists, as well as UN personnel.”
Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton also noted a frustrating avoidance among U.S. leadership of the Boko Haram’s religious motivations.
“Their (Boko Haram’s) motivation for those crimes is obviously radical Islam and pushing a Sharia agenda, and yet our government says that Boko Haram is the result of ‘economic imbalance’ in Nigeria and ‘lack of educational opportunities’,” he stated.
In light of the past four years’ death toll, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by Boko Haram’s widespread and ongoing reign of terror. “People just kind of put their hands up in the air and say, ‘There’s nothing we can do'” notes Musselman.
“Of course, that’s not true. There is much we can do.”
It all starts with prayer. “Our prayer really needs to be for the Church in Nigeria, that they will be strong,” says Musselman.
You can also support Boko Haram victims through VOM Canada. Click here to learn how.