U.S. offers millions for arrest of African terror group leaders

WASHINGTON, June 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department said it is offering multimillion dollar rewards for the capture of leaders of terror groups in North and West Africa.

The Rewards for Justice program is offering monetary rewards for the first time for information on the leaders of the al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, the Signed-in-Blood Battalion, and Boko Haram, CNN reported Tuesday.


The largest reward, $7 million, is being offered for Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. Boko Haram, which translated means "Western education is forbidden," refers to itself as the Nigerian Taliban and seeks to overthrow the government and install Islamic law, CNN said.

The group has killed more than 2,800 people and attacked Christian churches throughout the country, Human Rights Watch said.

The program is offering $5 million for Islamic militant fighter Mokhtar Belmokhtar, founder of the Signed-in-Blood Battalion, or the al-Mulathamun Battalion, CNN reported. The group claimed responsibility for an attack on a gas facility in Algeria in January that killed 37 hostages, including three U.S. citizens.

The Rewards for Justice program has paid more than $125 million to more than 80 people who provided information leading to the arrest or conviction of terrorists since 1984, CNN reported.


President Barack Obama expanded the program earlier this year to include payments to capture people involved in transnational organized crime or foreign nationals wanted by international criminal tribunals for war crimes or genocide, CNN said.

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