Boko Haram and U.S. Counterterrorism Assistance to Nigeria

Washington, DC - “The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime, and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian Government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice. I will tell you, my friends, I have seen this scourge of terror across the planet, and so have you. They don't offer anything except violence. They don't offer a health care plan, they don't offer schools. They don't tell you how to build a nation; they don't talk about how they will provide jobs. They just tell people, "You have to behave the way we tell you to," and they will punish you if you don't.” -- Secretary of State John F. Kerry

Nigeria is a key strategic partner in Africa. Nigeria has the continent’s largest population and largest economy, and it plays a vital role in efforts to resolve crises and promote stability and prosperity in West Africa and beyond. In the midst of rapid economic growth, however, Nigeria faces security challenges, notably Boko Haram (BH), a violent Islamist movement that has staged regular attacks in northern Nigeria since 2010. Given Nigeria’s importance as a regional political and economic leader, the U.S. has a vital interest in helping to strengthen Nigeria’s democratic institutions, boost Nigeria’s prosperity and security, and ensure opportunity for all of its citizens. The U.S. and Nigeria also work closely together in multilateral fora, including the UN Security Council, where Nigeria is serving a term as a non-permanent member for 2014-2015.

As the President noted in his National Defense University speech in May 2013, countering terrorism requires a holistic approach. We continue to work with Nigeria and other international partners to help promote and support such an approach to Boko Haram. The United States has been working to counter BH for many years, and we will continue to do so. The first part of this fact sheet provides information about BH and the many atrocities it committed in Nigeria prior to its attack on a girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, where it kidnapped approximately 300 girls. The latter part provides information about various U.S. Department of State initiatives and programs to assist Nigeria’s counterterrorism efforts, such as the Antiterrorism Assistance Program and the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership.

Additional information