The State Department announced Wednesday that Boko Haram and Ansaru, a splinter organization, have been designated as “foreign terrorist organizations” and “specially designated global terrorists.”
The department, in a release, called the move “an important and appropriate step.” The designations make it illegal to knowingly aid, give resources to, or engage in financial transactions with the Nigerian-based groups. It also allows the Treasury Department to place a freeze on assets within U.S. jurisdiction.
The two groups have been tied to numerous attacks, including those against foreign nationals, mosques, and Nigerian security forces.
“These designations demonstrate our strong support for Nigeria’s fight against terrorism and its efforts to address security challenges in the north,” Lisa Monaco, an assistant to President Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism, said in a statement.
She noted that the president met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan earlier this year and urged his government to take counterterrorism measures against the organizations, while also protecting human rights.