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Institute on Religion and Democracy Cross

(Photo credit: Institute on Religion and Democracy)

June 6, 2013
Contact: Jeff Walton 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell

“We renew our calls to the State Department to designate Boko Haram itself as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.”
-Faith J.H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Director

Washington, DC—Officials with the U.S. Department of State have announced that its Rewards for Justice program is offering a bounty on information leading to the capture of key leaders of terrorist organizations in West Africa. The program is offering up to $7 million for Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram.

Boko Haram seeks to eradicate the Christian presence in northern Nigeria and to impose Sharia law on the whole nation. The Institute on Religion and Democracy commends the State Department for taking this step to capture Shekau and other Islamist terrorists such as the leaders of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), and the Signed-in-Blood Battalion.

IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:

“This is very welcome news from the State Department. The capture of Shekau, who has stated that he has no more compunction about killing ‘anyone that God commands’ him to kill than he would to killing a chicken, should be a priority to the United States and to all who value humanity and justice.”

“According to data from the Jubilee Campaign, the most frequent targets of Boko Haram’s violence and destruction are Christians. Between 2010 and 2013, Boko Haram initiated attacks against Christians 297 times, and in 2012 alone, the jihadist group killed 1,726 people and injured 613 more. In 2013 Boko Haram has so far killed 785 people and injured 182 more.”

“We have found the State Department’s policy on Boko Haram as a whole quite disturbing, with the onus placed on the Nigerian government to employ a security strategy against Boko Haram ‘that is not predicated on the use of force’ and portrays the Islamist jihadists as victims of poverty and marginalization.

“While offering a reward for Shekau’s capture is a commendable step in the right direction, we renew our calls to the State Department to designate Boko Haram itself as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (F.T.O.) This designation would be of great assistance in cutting off aid and political support to these jihadists, and would signal a change in the moral equivalence heretofore demonstrated by the State Department on this subject.”