Nigeria’s Boko Haram leaders placed on U.S TERROR List
By Jo Biddle (AFP): Washington DC — The United States designated three leaders of the Boko Haram militant group as terrorists Thursday in a bid to stem the violence in Nigeria, which has
endured a series of deadly attacks.
The three named by the State Department were Abubakar Shekau, widely believed to lead Boko Haram’s main Islamist cell, Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi, labeling all three “global terrorists.”
But the US stopped short of putting the group as a whole, which is blamed for about 1,000 deaths since it launched an uprising in 2009, on its terror list.
“Under Shekau’s leadership, Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in northern Nigeria, its primary area of operation,” the statement said, adding that most of the victims were “overwhelmingly civilian.”
Shekau was the most visible of the group’s leaders, the State Department said, accusing the two other men of close links to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.
According to a source close to Boko Haram, Barnawi is thought to have run a militant training camp in the Algerian desert and was involved in the kidnapping of foreigners in the nation of Niger and in Nigeria.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja in August, which killed at least 25 people.
Its deadliest attack yet occurred in January in the northern city of Kano, when coordinated bombings and shootings left at least 185 people dead.
But its attacks have grown increasingly sophisticated and have affected a wider geographical area, spreading from its base in the extreme northeast across the wider north and down to the capital Abuja.
The US designation blocks the men’s “property interests subject to US jurisdiction and prohibits US persons from engaging in transactions with or for the benefit of these individuals,” the statement added.
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sin” in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria, is believed to include a number of factions with differing aims, some with political links and a hardcore Islamist cell.
Initially, the group said it was fighting to set up an Islamic state in the north of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer.
But a range of demands by different people have since been issued, including the release of its members from prison.
After the 2009 uprising that led to nearly a week of fighting that ended with a military assault that left some 800 people dead, the group went dormant.
It reemerged in 2010 with a series of assassinations. Bomb blasts, including suicide attacks, have since become frequent and increasingly deadly.
Just this week, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for suicide attacks on churches in Kaduna state on Sunday that left at least 16 people dead. They also sparked reprisals by Christian mobs against mosques and Muslims that have killed dozens.
Shekau was once thought to have been killed, but re-emerged in January to lead the group from the shadows.
He appeared on YouTube at the time, threatening more attacks and saying Boko Haram was responsible for violence on January 20 that killed 185 in Kano.
He was seen as the second-in-command of Boko Haram during the uprising in 2009. Then-leader Mohammed Yusuf was captured by soldiers and handed over to police. Yusuf was later killed when police claimed he was trying to escape, though rights groups have called it a summary execution.
Born in a farming village also called Shekau in northeastern Yobe state, Shekau studied theology under local clerics in the Mafoni area of Maiduguri and enrolled in a government-run school for Islamic studies.
He is often shown in photos wearing a keffiyeh and seated next to an AK-47 assault rifle, appearing tense.
Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com and the Nigeria360 e-group. http://www.usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/ : IF any of the Nigerian President’s 100 advisers has the polite courage for the extraordinary task of reminding His Excellency of his foremost, sworn, constitutional obligation to the national interest about security and safety of Nigerians and all who sojourn in Nigeria, please whisper clearly to Mr. President that I said, respectfully: Nigerians, at home and abroad, are still concerned and afraid for living in what I call Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. FULL text of commentary at USAfricaonline.com http://www.usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/
Related insight: USAfrica’s October 17, 2001 special report/alert: Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu. http://www.usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html
Related and prior reporting on the Jos crises on USAfrica, click here: http://www.usafricaonline.com/2011/08/16/10-killed-in-renewed-violence-near-jos/
News archives related to Jos, here http://www.usafricaonline.com/?s=jos
310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com on July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html
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USAfrica: As Egypt’s corrupter-in-chief Mubarak slides into history’s dustbin. By Chido Nwangwu. http://www.usafricaonline.com/2011/01/30/chido-nwangwu-as-egypt-corrupter-in-chief-mubarak-slides-into-historys-dustbin-egyptians-not-waiting-for-obama-and-united-nations/
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