Factcheck: Nigeria Is Not A ‘State Sponsor Of Terrorism’ And Has Never Been

HumAngle has emailed SANS Technology Institute for clarification but has yet to get a response.

Claim: An email purportedly from SANS Technology Institute, whose screenshot has recently circulated on social media, states that Nigeria has been listed as a “state sponsor of terrorism” by the United States Department of State.

The name of the email’s recipient was blotted out and the date is not clear. Checks by HumAngle, however, suggest the image has not appeared online in the past and is likely not outdated.

“Thank you for your interest and enquiry. We appreciate that you highlighted that your education and background is from Nigeria,” the email stated.

“Unfortunately, this does, in fact, impact our ability to accept you into our programs. As a longstanding matter of policy, the SANS Technology of Institute does not accept students from a number of countries where the governmental regime is a cause for international concern.” 

The email then added in the case of the enquirer, the U.S. currently lists their country of citizenship (Nigeria) as a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

“Because of this designation, we must decline your inquiry to pursue a higher education degree program with the SANS Technology Institute,” it concluded.

The image has been shared multiple times on Twitter and WhatsApp. One of the tweets has been shared by over 650 users and liked by over 250 people.

Founded in 2006, SANS Technology Institute is a college headquartered in the U.S. and  offers undergraduate and postgraduate certificate programmes on cybersecurity.

Verdict: False

Fact: Nigeria is neither currently listed as a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. nor has it ever been. 

According to the Department of State (a link to whose website was provided in the SANS email), there are four countries on the list: Syria (designated in 1979), Sudan (designated in 1993), Iran (designated in 1984), and North Korea (designated in 2017).

Cuba was enlisted in 1982 and later removed in 2015; Iraq was added in 1979 and removed in 2004; Libya was added in 1979 and was removed in 2006; finally, former South Yemen was likewise part of the list in 1979 and dropped in 1990.

According to the Department of State, state sponsors of terrorism are countries that “have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism”. 

“Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defence exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual-use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions,” it explains.

“Designation under the above-referenced authorities also implicates other sanctions laws that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors.” 

The U.S. also has a list of countries it says provide a “safe haven” to terrorists. These include Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Southern Philippines, Venezuela, and Yemen.

Nigeria is not on either of the lists. HumAngle has emailed SANS Technology Institute to confirm if the email originated from it and for clarification, but we have yet to get a response.

In January, however, Nigeria was among six countries announced by the U.S.  to be facing new visa restrictions that could be a risk to it because of failure to meet a series of security criteria. 

Nigeria, the Department of Homeland Security said in its statement, “does not comply with the established identity-management and information-sharing criteria assessed by the performance metrics”.

Aside this, Nigeria has recently been praised for its fight against terrorism. U.S. President Donald Trump at a joint press conference with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari praised the latter’s efforts.

“I especially want to thank President Buhari for Nigeria’s partnership and leadership in the fight against terrorism.  He’s been a real leader,” Trump said

“Nigeria was one of the first African nations to join the coalition to defeat ISIS, and Nigerian forces are currently leading regional efforts against ISIS in West Africa, and doing very well, as we have,” the American president said.

He added that the two countries were  strategic partners “for peace and security, conflict resolution, as well as a global fight against terrorism”.

Conclusion: Nigeria is not  designated by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism. The latest report from the Department of State also does not include the country among places providing a “safe haven” to terrorists. The claim in the email is false.

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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