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Chambliss wants State Dept. to designate Nigerian group a foreign terrorist organization

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A trio of Republican senators including Saxby Chambliss of Georgia introduced legislation Thursday to compel the nation’s top diplomats to speed along its designation of a Nigerian militant Islamist group a terrorist threat.

Senators Chambliss, Scott Brown (R-MA) and Jim Risch (R-ID) have floated a bill that would require the State Department to determine if Boko Haram, which has orchestrated a number of bombings against Western interests in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, qualifies for inclusion in a federal register of foreign terrorist organizations.

“Boko Haram’s improving terrorist operational capabilities–including improvised explosive devices–are a serious threat to international and U.S. interests,” Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a joint release today. “This group has expressed solidarity with al Qaeda and continues to threaten attacks against U.S. interests. The time is long past to designate Boko Haram a terrorist group.”

The National Counterterrorism Center reports that the group has become increasingly aggressive against the West since 2010 with a change in leadership. After its first vehicle-born IED in June 2011, it staged an attack on United Nations headquarters in Abuju in which at least 23 people were killed and more than 80 injured.

- James Richardson