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The US State Department Thursday said the Islamic State in West Africa Province will not get the $7 million bounty it placed on Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Boko Haram sect – the statement issued follows multiple reports from local media that Shekau has been killed.
Nigeria’s military is investigating reports that the leader of militant Islamist group Boko Haram may have been killed or seriously injured following clashes with rival jihadists, an army spokesman said on Friday.
Abubakar Shekau has been the figurehead of an Islamist insurgency that has since 2009 killed more than 30,000 people, forced around 2 million people to flee their homes and spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
On June 21, 2012, the U.S. Department of State designated Shekau a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 – One year later, a $7 million bounty was placed on him.
Responding to reports on the death of the terrorist leader, the State Department said the bounty is not meant for a group under ISIS.
“News reports today indicate that Boko Haram terrorist Abubakar Shekau blew himself up in a confrontation with ISIS affiliates. Hey, ISIS guys. To clarify: no – you are not eligible for the reward for information on his identity or location. That’s not how the program works,” the US State Department for justice tweeted.
A Nigerian Army spokesman, Mohammed Yerima, said the military were investigating.
“It’s a rumour. We are investigating it. We can only say something if we confirm it,” said the spokesman.
Shekau was said to have been killed on several occasions over the last 12 years, including in announcements by the military, only to later appear in a video post.
ISWAP was previously part of Shekau’s militant Islamist group before its split five years ago, pledging allegiance to Islamic State. The schism was due to religious ideological disagreements over the killing of civilians by Boko Haram, to which ISWAP objected.
“Abubakar Shekau is the leader of Jama’atu Ahl as-Sunnah il-Da’awati wal-Jihad, more commonly known as Boko Haram. Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” is a Nigeria-based terrorist organization that seeks to overthrow the current Nigerian government and replace it with a regime based on Islamic law. The group has existed in various forms since the late 1990s. There are reported communications, training, and weapons links between Boko Haram, al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Shabaab, and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which may strengthen Boko Haram’s capacity to conduct terrorist attacks,” read the statement Rewards for Justice issued when a bounty was placed on Shekau.