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November 20, 2013 at 10:46 am

Inter Press: Kendhammer Says Groups’ Terrorist Designation Makes Research Difficult

A Inter Press Service Nov. 14 report on Nigeria-based militant groups being designated terrorist organizations by the U.S. government quotes Dr. Brandon Kendhammer, Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Ohio University College of Arts & Sciences.

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Dr. Brendon Kendhammer

Dr. Brendon Kendhammer

“Boko Haram and Ansaru are widely believed to be behind extremist terrorist attacks that have claimed thousands of lives in Nigeria in recent years, amidst a fight with the central government and its army over the role of Islam in Nigerian society. Response to the designation has been mixed, with some welcoming the decision while others warn that the move could end up hurting U.S. interests,” reports Inter Press Service.

Still, others have long warned the State Department against making such a designation. Brandon Kendhammer, an expert on African politics and a faculty member at Ohio University, says the new announcement will make it increasingly difficult for those who, like him, study these groups.

“[The designations] will make it difficult for people … in the academic environment who want to study these movements,” Kendhammer told IPS. “Now it’s going to be very hard to contact their members or even to just work with communities where members might be present.”

Kendhammer’s concerns are not isolated. In May 2012, he was joined by a group of 24 other academics from across the U.S. in writing a letter to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging the Obama administration to refrain from designating Boko Haram a terrorist organisation.

In the letter, the group of experts argued that a “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.”

“We surely have more information about Boko Haram than we did at the time of the letter, but it’s clear that the State Department still hasn’t articulated very well what type of connections the group has with other jihadist organisations,” Kendhammer says.

Read the Inter Press Service report.

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