UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions against the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group Boko Haram, which has carried out a wave of deadly attacks and the recent abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria, the United States said Thursday.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power welcomed the council's action, calling it "an important step in support of the government of Nigeria's efforts to defeat Boko Haram and hold its murderous leadership accountable for atrocities."
Nigeria, which is serving a two-year term on the council, asked the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Al Qaeda to add Boko Haram to the list of Al Qaeda-linked organizations subject to an arms embargo and asset freeze.
The 14 other council member had until 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) on Thursday to object and none did. So the committee will now add Boko Haram to the Al Qaeda sanctions list.
By adding Boko Haram to the sanctions list, Power said, "the Security Council has helped to close off important avenues of funding, travel and weapons to Boko Haram, and shown global unity against their savage actions."
Nigeria's U.N. Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu said Wednesday "the important thing is to attack the problem, and that is terrorism."
The Al Qaeda sanctions list currently includes 62 entities and groups, and 213 individuals who are also subject to travel bans.
Boko Haram's 5-year-old Islamic uprising has claimed the lives of thousands of Muslims and Christians, including more than 1,500 people killed in attacks so far this year.
The group, whose name means "Western education is sinful," has tried to root out Western influence by targeting schools, churches, mosques, government buildings and security forces. The homegrown terror group was largely contained to the northern part of Nigeria before expanding its reach with the help of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the terrorist network's affiliate in West Africa.
At a summit in Paris on Saturday aimed at hammering out a plan to rescue the 276 girls, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said "Boko Haram is acting clearly as an Al Qaeda operation." The Nigerian president only reluctantly accepted outside help after years of insisting that Boko Haram was a local problem.
French President Francois Hollande told the summit that Boko Haram is armed with weapons that came from Libya following the ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, and the training took place in Mali before the ouster of its Al Qaeda-linked Islamist leaders. As for the money, Hollande said its origins were murky.