US bounties changes strategy on West African jihadis
The US is offering up to $23 million for information leading to the location of Nigeria’s Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and Al Qaeda operative Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
The list of Islamist militants – released yesterday by the US State Department’s “Reward for Justice” program – reads like a who’s-who of prominent jihadists responsible for a string of deadly attacks and high-profile kidnappings throughout North and West Africa in recent years.
The call for information marks the first time the US is offering cash in exchange for tips on leaders of Islamist groups in West Africa, and may suggest a shift in US thinking regarding the threat posed by Islamist militants in the region. Until recently, most analysts viewed terror cells in Africa as domestic groups with local agendas and few experts considered these groups a direct threat to the US.
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