June 3, 2013

In an unprecedented move, the United
States on Monday posted up to $23
million in rewards to help track down
five leaders of militant groups accused
of spreading terror in west Africa. The highest reward of $7 million is offered for the Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, who last week called on Islamists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq to join the bloody fight to create an Islamic state in Nigeria.

The US State Department’s Rewards for Justice program also targeted Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), offering its first ever bounties for wanted militants in west Africa. Up to $5 million was posted for Al-Qaeda veteran Mokhtar Belmokhtar,the one-eyed Islamist behind the devastating attack on an Algerian gas plant in January in which 37 foreigners, including three Americans, were killed.

A further $5 million was offered for top AQIM leader Yahya Abou Al-Hammam, reportedly involved in the 2010 murder of an elderly French hostage in Niger. Malik Abou Abdelkarim, a senior fighter with AQIM, and Oumar Ould Hamaha, the spokesman for Mali’s Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa(MUJAO), were also targeted by the rewards program, which will give up to $3 million each for information leading to their arrests.

“AQIM has been increasingly active in
north and west Africa. They’re one of
the pre-eminent kidnap for ransom
groups in the terrorist world right now,” a senior State Department official told AFP, asking not to be named. “They cause us a great deal of concern.Anything that we can do naturally to cut down on the capabilities of AQIM,
anything that we can do to get
information on these people so that
we can get them in front of a court… That is our goal.”

The United States has been increasingly worried about the spread of Islamist groups in Mali and across the vast and lawless Sahel since a military coup ousted the government in Bamako. Former colonial power France has led
a military offensive since January
against the militants in Mali’s northern
desert, as the west African nation
prepares for presidential elections on
July 28. There are fears however that the
spread of militant groups risks
destabilizing the entire west African

Belmokhtar, who was a senior commander for AQIM, broke away from the group last year to set up his own group dubbed the “Signatories in Blood.” Branded “the Uncatchable,” Belmokhtar also personally supervised
the operational plans for the twin car
bombings in Niger that killed at least
20 people late last month, according
to a spokesman for his group.

Monday’s rewards acknowledged the
growing links between AQIM and Nigeria’s Boko Haram, which is under
pressure from a military offensive.“They’ve had a relationship for some
time. They send people back and forth
for training, they’ve done the provision
of arms back and forth,” the State
Department official said. “The links are… not quite as solid as some of the other terrorist organizations,” he said. “Nonetheless,it’s a dangerous link and it’s something that we feel we should try and stop.”

Shekau, in a video obtained by AFP last week, claimed his forces had made significant gains against the Nigerian army while sustaining little damage since the start of the military offensive on May 15. “Under his leadership, Boko Haram’s capability has certainly grown,” the State Department official told AFP.

He highlighted how the group set off
“their first improvised explosive device in early June 2011. By August(2011) they used a car bomb against the United Nations facility,” an attack which killed 25 people. “When we see someone like this who… is actually leading to an
increase in the capability of an
organization, that’s something that
we would naturally try to see if we can
do something to impede,” he added.

Shekau’s whereabouts could not be
determined in the video, in which he
is shown seated and dressed in
camouflage and a turban, with an AK-47 at his side. His comments contradict statements from the military, which has claimed major successes during the offensive, including the destruction of Boko Haram camps and dozens of arrests. Shekau was placed on a US blacklist last year, but Boko Haram has yet to be designated a foreign terrorist
organization — an absence which has
raised eyebrows among regional


About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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  1. Anas says:

    Its heart warmin to see that d americans hv woken up frm their slumber and realise that bh is a cancerous tumor that must be removed frm west africa abeg they shuld deploy those killer predator drones of their to the NE

    • igbi says:

      so that they can spy on us and give essential info to boko haram when it suits them ? So I say no, no, no! The US has been trying to sabotage our efforts right from ,time. Now that they know boko haram will soon be nomore, they are trying to pretend they were on our side.

  2. jimmy says:

    This is one of the rare moments where I get to be the second person to comment on a very sensitive issue : US/ Nigeria relationships.
    First let me commend the U.S. govt for selecting $7M aside to put on Shekau. The monetary reward is SIGNIFICANT, however the biggest dividends is not the reward it is the long term implications If you become an enemy of state of Nigeria very soon you become an enemy of state of the U.S. . oga beegeagle and to my fellow Americans who read this blog these are the long term strategic thinking that I honestly believe both countries need to engage in for a well ,constructive pragmatic beneficial relationship that suits both countries. Nigerians of all stripes including the ones that walk the corridors of power will remember when the chips were down America put it’s money where it’s mouth is .
    Nigeria likewise maybe irritated sometimes by some of the things that Washington says maybe it is for hometown consumption or it is genuine hard talk from another well meaning friendly country they are more likely to listen.
    The U.S. needs to go one step further, their is a phrase we sometimes use in the states ” We are doing this TO SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF” they need to designate BOKO HARAM a terrorists / kidnapping / RELIGIOUS BIGOTED organization that has killed and destroyed more Muslims and Christians combined and also destroyed more mosques and churches combined than any organization to date. There will be some officials in NIGERIA that will wail crocodile tears the designation will be beneficial to both countries combined yes people with same names will get stopped at the airport, just as it happens in the us everyday, this is not a reason not to designate ..
    The benefit to the US is this: illegal terrorists money is not transferred from organizations within the us or to the us that can aid boko haram for fear of being targeted by the u.s financial services.
    The benefit to Nigeria is the crippling of BOKO HARAM both from a military/ financial / political point of view now it becomes an onslaught, the sponsors of boko haram whom are known to the authorities become instant targets anywhere in the western world.
    Once again well done these two months May /June despite US SEC KERRY’S concerns has been a good month for relations between the two countries. HOPEFULLY THIS WILL BE SUSTAINED.

    • peccavi says:

      The most significant thing the US can do to combat BH is to impose strict money laundering controls on every politically connected Nigerian and more importantly ensure that the UAE and the UK follow suit.
      Not only will the Nigerian economy get a sudden boost of capital but alot of people will find themselves with nowhere to hide.
      But its a nice pat on the back by the US. As I have said earlier, we have been ‘sticked’ for the past 2 weeks, this is just one of the ‘carrots’

      • eyimola says:

        Spot on. The sheer volume of cash currently haemorrhaging out of Nigeria is staggering. The US is yet to give Nigerians what they ask from her the most. A stable, prosperous democratic Nigeria will not suddenly appear once Boko Haram is defeated. The ransom is symbolic and is unlikely to directly lead to the capture of Shekau.

  3. ifiok umoeka says:

    The americans are responding to the proverbial ‘put ur money where ur mouth is’. Now designate BH a terror group and go after the money. THANK YOU USA, it show that you are partners in the war against terror.

  4. beegeagle says:

    Methinks we have finally arrived at the tipping point where double speak is an ill-affordable luxury. I wholeheartedly commend this gesture of solidarity by the American Government. It shows that they are following the ebb and tide of the regional conflicts and reacting pragmatically rather than carrying about some immutable ideas of governance issues in the manner of a mental tumour. So how did we arrive at this juncture?

    First, in this fast-paced year 2013, BH have come out shorn of pretext to show that they are transnational terrorists. Beginning from the time when MUJAO tried to resist the Franco-Malian onslaught at Douentza, Boko Haram fighters were active on the side of MUJAO.

    Next and not long after that, they kidnapped a French family right inside Cameroon while last weekend, Boko Haram terrorists attempted a jailbreak in nextdoor Niger.

    Haven shown their hands in Nigeria, Mali, Cameroon and Niger and given their very warm ties to MUJAO who are a direct creation of AQIM, methinks the transnational threat which they have shown themselves capable of psoing since January, finally forced America into having a reality check.

    At any rate, can maximum the leader be a terrorist while his group is not a terror conclave, particularly when Shekau is deemed to be a higher value target than Belmokhtar of AQIM+it mutation, Signatories in Blood? So it is only a matter of time before BH are formally listed as a terrorist group.

    This is a good step forward. The love of lucre still works wonders. For $500,000(a Benz G500 and new duplex and N50 million business capital assured…chhecckkkkk me out, 007 🙂 ), even I would squarely betray any of these expendable regional security nuisance twice as hard as Judas Iscariot and rid the traumatised Algeria-Mali-Niger-Nigeria quadrangle of one more false prophet.

  5. Tope says:

    I believe this sudden Issuance of bounty on his head has to do with the Sitrep CIA must have compiled and maybe a Terrorism Projection with Niger getting Hotter by day, Libya Algeria and Mali undergoing their won theatre of Terrorism and the East Militants continuing their issue fear that a Continent Wide Terrorism Force can happen and the USA will nt want that because of significant Economic Assets…..it just cant. Also Pressures on the Administration to act has mounted since S.O.E was declared. Kudos to the Americans but what i would nt want is them wanting to set up Bases for any reason or even have their drones here. Im quite positive some CIA officials are disgised as Diplomatic Attaches in Nigeria and are collecting Intelligence.

    What we need now is the USA’s Version of the EFCC to help us together with Interpol hunt down the Financial Sponsors of the Group. Cut the Supply line and Funds and they will Surrender like Cats.

    Im happy the Americans have decided to fight this battle with us, promises made during the BNC Commission are slowly being kept we will support your Support but please let such Support be Free and Fair.

  6. Yagazie says:

    ABOUT TIME!!!! – All that talk about the root cause of BH (and their murderous activities) being poverty in the North never held water. Shekaru should be shot on sight. You don’t negotiate with terrorists – period.

  7. ifiok umoeka says:

    I think unarmed drones will be fine if we have a clear MO (with renewable time lines) and our AI boy receiving the feed. Of course we’ll need what to utilize the intel with

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