The United States has expanded its offer of rewards for information on key leaders of terrorist organizations to include Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.
The United States has expanded its offer of rewards for information on key leaders of terrorist organizations to include a leader of one of the groups conducting attacks on government facilities and other targets in Northern Nigeria, roiling the nation in sectarian violence.
Abubakar Shekau is the leader of the group commonly known as Boko Haram, a Nigeria-based extremist organization seeking to overthrow the current government there and replace it with a regime based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law. Links with terrorist groups such as al-Qaida and al-Shabaab have strengthened Boko Haram’s capacity to conduct its attacks.
Previously the group’s Number Two, Shekau claimed overall command in July 2010, expressing solidarity with al-Qaida and threatening the United States. A vehicle bomb attack on the United Nations headquarters in Abuja in August 2011 marked the group’s first lethal operation against Western interests, killing at least 23 people and injuring 80 others. In April 2012, the group bombed a Nigerian newspaper office in Abuja and later threatened other local and international news outlets, including the Voice of America. Under his leadership, the group has kidnapped hundreds of children to serve as hostages, bearers and even fighters.
Shekau is tall, slim and has a dark complexion. He was born in Yobe, Nigeria, sometime between 1965 and 1975, and is of the Kanuri ethnicity. He speaks Arabic, Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri. He is known to have used the aliases Abu Bakr Skikwa and Imam Abu Bakr Shiku.
The Rewards for Justice Program is offering a reward of up to seven million dollars for information leading to Shekau’s location.
The U.S. promises that all credible reports will be investigated and the identity of all informants will be kept confidential. If appropriate, the U.S. is prepared to protect informants by relocating them and their families.