The US authorities have declared Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Jama’atu Ahl as-Sunnah il-Da’awati wal-Jihad, better known as Boko Haram, a wanted man.
And they are placing a $7 million bet he will be found, to be given away to anyone who can provide information leading to his arrest.
Analysts say the placement of large sum of money as bounty by the United States government reflects a new dimension to US government involvement to hunt down Mr. Shekau and his close aides, and of Shekau’s connections.
The US seems confident it can narrow the corridors of safety for Shekau, as many international bounty hunters can activate their networks in other to collect the bounty.
Below is the flyer that is being distributed by the US Reward for Justice website:
Wanted Information leading to the location of Abubakar Shekau Up to $7 Million Reward
Dates of Birth Used : 1965, 1969, 1975
Place of Birth : Yobe, Nigeria
Sex : Male
Height : Tall
Build : Slim
Complexion : Dark
Ethnicity : Kanuri
Languages : Arabic, Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri
Aliases : Abu Bakr Skikwa, Imam Abu Bakr Shiku, Abu Muhammad Abu Bakr Bin Muhammad Al Shakwi Al Muslimi Bishku, Abubakar Shakkau
Abubakar Shekau is the leader of Jama’atu Ahl as-Sunnah il-Da’awati wal-Jihad, more commonly known as Boko Haram. Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” is a Nigeria-based terrorist organization that seeks to overthrow the current Nigerian government and replace it with a regime based on Islamic law. The group has existed in various forms since the late 1990s. There are reported communications, training, and weapons links between Boko Haram, al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Shabaab, and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which may strengthen Boko Haram’s capacity to conduct terrorist attacks.
Shekau was previously the group’s second-in-command. In July 2010, Shekau publicly claimed leadership of Boko Haram and threatened to attack Western interests in Nigeria. Later that month, Shekau issued a second statement expressing solidarity with al-Qaida and threatening the United States. Under Shekau’s leadership, Boko Haram’s operational capabilities have grown.
The group set off its first vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (IED) in June 2011, and has increasingly utilized IEDs in attacks against soft targets. Boko Haram’s August 26, 2011 vehicle-bomb attack on the United Nations headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria marked the group’s first lethal operation against Western interests. At least 23 people were killed, and 80 more were injured, in the attack. A purported Boko Haram spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack and promised future targeting of U.S. and Nigerian government interests.
On May 1, 2012, less than one week after the group bombed a Nigerian newspaper building in Abuja, Boko Haram issued a video statement threatening more attacks on local and international news outlets, including the Voice of America and Sahara Reporters, a New York-based media service.
On June 21, 2012, the U.S. Department of State designated Shekau a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224.