May 17, 2014
U.S. says Boko Haram now 'top priority'
The acknowledgment — accompanied by a caveat that it is impossible to say if an earlier designation would have had a significant impact on the group — came amid Republican criticism of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s decision not to take the step in 2012. And it was made as senior U.S. officials declared to Congress that freeing the schoolgirls abducted by the radical Islamist group last month has become one of the Obama administration’s top priorities.
As the 276 girls entered a second month in captivity that has sparked global outrage, senior officials from the State Department, the Pentagon and the U.S. Agency for International Development told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee that the U.S. is committed to assisting Nigeria in combating the al-Qaida-linked Boko Haram as it expands its reach and builds capacity for more sophisticated and deadlier terror attacks.
At the same time, though, the officials lamented limitations on U.S. cooperation with the Nigerian military due to its poor human rights record. And they expressed concern about the Nigerian government’s commitment to fight the group and the ability of its army to do so.