U.S. State department places three Boko Haram members on terrorist list
Move will freeze any assets of members, forbidding any U.S, citizen to do business with them
The U.S. State Department has designated three of the Boko Haram's alleged leaders to its global terrorism list. The northern Nigerian militant group is accused in numerous terrorist bombings in that nation. The move will freeze any U.S.-based assets held by Abubakar Shekau, Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi. The action also forbids any U.S. individuals or companies from engaging in transactions that would benefit them in any way.
While Abubakar Shekau, above remains 'the most visible leader' of Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad, which is Boko Haram's official name. Both al-Barnawi and Kambar have 'close links to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb' (AQIM) which has already been designated a 'Foreign Terrorist Organization.'
"These designations demonstrate the United States' resolve in diminishing the capacity of Boko Haram to execute violent attacks," the release continued. The statement also noted that more than 1,000 people have been killed by alleged members or associates of Boko Haram in the past 18 months.
Boko Haram has recently been timed to a variety of targets, including the bombing of Christian churches and federal government facilities, primarily in the northern and central regions of Nigeria. There were fresh incidents of church bombings in Nigeria this past weekend. The newest attacks, in which at least 50 people were killed, took place against three churches in Zaria and Kaduna, which set off retaliatory raids by Christian groups.
Both Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea provide the United States with eight percent of it total oil imports. This makes Nigeria -- the dominant political power in West Africa -- Washington's biggest trading partner on the African continent.
Nigeria is also one of only three sub-Saharan African countries, along with South Africa and Angola, another major oil exporter in which the Obama administration has established high-level bi-national commissions.
The emergence of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, whose name translates as "Western education is sacrilege" has sparked growing concern. Security in the oil-producing Niger Delta region of Nigeria has long dominated U.S. concerns about the country's stability, particularly in the Pentagon and its nearly five-year-old Africa Command, or AFRICOM.
General Carter Ham, in his first visit to Nigeria as AFRICOM commander in August 2011, charged that Boko Haram had made contacts with AQIM and that it was conceivable that those two groups could form a "loose" partnership with Somalia's Al-Shabaab, another group tied to Al Qaeda.
In a mere ten days after Ham's visit, Boko Haram took responsibility for a suicide attack on the U.N. compound in the capital, Abuja, which killed at least 23 people in what was its first assault on a foreign target. An attack on a Catholic church on Christmas day of that year was followed by a series of attacks that killed more than 180 people in Kano on January 20.
A version of this story was first published by Inter Press Service news agency.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Boko Haram, terrorist organizations, Nigeria, oil, U.S. State Department
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