FACT CHECK: No Evidence That Minister Pantami is on U. S. Terror Watch List

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    By Muhammad Auwal Ibrahim

    YBTC News—Daily Independent newspaper and NewsWire have published a news story which trended on Twitter, alleging that Nigeria’s minister of communications and digital economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami is placed terror watch list by the United States government.

    The news further led to a tweet by one David Hundeyin, a freelance journalist who also alleged that Pantami has held a friendly conversation with Boko haram founder.

    CLAIMS

    1. Daily independent, published a story with the title ‘Disquiet As America Places Nigerian Minister On Watch List’. on terrorism, on 11th April, 2021.
    2. David Hundeyin, a twitter user, tweeted a youtube video on 12th April, 2021 in which Pantami was debating with Boko haram founder, Muhammad Yusuf, in hausa language which he alleged that Pantami was having a friendly conversation with.

    Pantami reacts, threatens to sue them

    https://mobile.twitter.com/DrIsaPantami/status/1381583268210995202?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1381583268210995202%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.premiumtimesng.com%2Fnews%2Ftop-news%2F455090-fact-check-is-communication-minister-isa-pantami-on-u-s-terror-watch-list.html

    “Investigative journalism requires the investigation before publishing, not after. Further, major publishers will meet my lawyers in the court on this defamation of character,” the minister wrote on twitter.

    After this threats, they quickly retracted their story, seeking for his apology. This has shown that the news they published lack enough evidence to stand on its own.

    What is U. S. Watch List?

    Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the President and Congress mandated that federal executive departments and agencies share terrorism information with those in the counterterrorism community responsible for protecting the homeland. In 2003, the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) was created to fulfill that mandate.

    “The Terrorist Screening Center, a multi-agency center administered by the FBI, is the U.S. Government’s consolidated counterterrorism watchlisting component and is responsible for the management and operation of the Terrorist Screening Database, commonly known as “the watchlist.” The FBI wrote.”

    “The watchlist is a single database that contains sensitive national security and law enforcement information concerning the identities of those who are known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activities.”

    “The TSC uses the watchlist to support front-line screening agencies in positively identifying known or suspected terrorists who are attempting to obtain visas, enter the country, board an aircraft, or engage in other activities.”

    “Since the Terrorist Screening Database is derived from classified intelligence and/or sensitive law enforcement information, the Terrorist Screening Center cannot confirm or deny whether any individual may be included in the watchlist. Disclosure of such information would significantly impair the government’s ability to investigate and mitigate terrorism, and expose sensitive national security information.”

    The U. S. government doesn’t reveal or publish the names of those on their watchlist. Therefore, the Daily Independent and other papers story is baseless.

    “Individuals are not watchlisted based solely on race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, or any First Amendment-protected activities such as free speech, the exercise of religion, freedom of press, freedom of peaceful assembly, and petitioning the government for redress of grievances.” FBI further stated.

    “And the TSC regularly conducts comprehensive and case-specific quality assurance reviews of data in the Terrorist Screening Database to ensure the U.S. Government’s substantive criteria for watchlisting is met and to ensure the records maintained in the watchlist are current, accurate, and thorough.”

    Read further information here on their website:

    https://www.fbi.gov/about/leadership-and-structure/national-security-branch/tsc

    VERDICT:

    False. There is no evidence that Dr. Pantami was on the U. S. terror watch list.

    Similarly, the video shared, accusing Mr. Pantami of having ties with terrorists is a big lie, misinterpreted. 

    He only had a scholarly debate with Boko haram founder where he preaches against his (Muhammad Yusuf) extremists views. So, having a debate does not make Pantami a friend with Boko haram founder. 

    Pantami lectured him on the permissibility of western education citing reference to famous Islamic scholars.

    CONCLUSION

    Checks by YBTC News shows that no evidence that indicates the Nigeria’s minister of communication, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami is on the U. S. terror watch list.

    Also, it is a lie. Pantami has no ties with terrorists. The video which was used as an evidence by the paper, portrayed Pantami but as a fighter of terrorism who risked his life to debate with the founder of Boko founder. Since then his life has been in danger, following threats he received from the terrorist group.

    Therefore, both of the publications should disregarded and be considered as fake news. They are no evidence to support their claims..

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