11/13/13: The BBC reports the US has designated Nigeria's Boko Haram and Ansaru militant groups as foreign terrorist organisations. The state department described the move as "an important" step to help Nigeria "root out violent extremism". It means US regulatory agencies are instructed to block business and financial transactions with the groups. Boko Haram wants to impose Islamic law in northern Nigeria, and has been blamed for thousands of deaths. Ansaru is seen as an off-shoot of Boko Haram. Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009, and targets both the military and civilians, including schools, and frequently clashes with the Nigerian armed forces. Ansaru was formed in January 2012, though it rose to prominence only about six months later through the release of a video in which it vowed to attack Westerners in defence of Muslims worldwide. The group has proved to be a formidable threat during its short existence, using dynamite to penetrate heavily-fortified compounds and taking foreigners hostage. The decision means that it is now a crime under US law to provide material support to the two groups.