The US Department of State has listed Abubakar Shekau, Abubakar Adam Kambar, and Khalid al-Barnawi who are leaders of the Boko Haram sect as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224.
In a statement made available to our Correspondent on Thursday afternoon, the Department of State said, Shekau is the most visible leader of the Nigeria-based militant group Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad, commonly referred to as Boko Haram.
The statement added that Khalid al-Barnawi and Abubakar Adam Kambar have ties to Boko Haram and have close links to al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.
"Under Shekau's leadership, Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in northern Nigeria, its primary area of operation. In the last 18 months, Boko Haram or associated militants have killed more than 1,000 people.
"Boko Haram is credited with the August 26, 2011 attack on the United Nations building Abuja that killed at least 23 people and wounded scores more. Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for the December 25, 2011 attack on the Saint Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Nigeria, that killed at least 35 and wounded dozens more. Boko Haram's deadliest violence occurred on January 20, 2012 in Kano, Nigeria, with a series of attacks that killed more than 180 people. Boko Haram's victims have been overwhelmingly civilian" the statement added.
The designation under E.O. 13224 blocks all of Shekau's, Kambar's and al-Barnawi's property interests subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with or for the benefit of these individuals.
These designations demonstrate the United States' resolve in diminishing the capacity of Boko Haram to execute violent attacks. The Department of State took these actions in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Treasury.
It would be recalled that the State Department has been under pressure to act against Boko Haram for months. In January, Lisa Monaco, the Justice Department's top national security official, sent a letter to the State Department arguing that the Nigerian group met the criteria for a "foreign terrorist" listing because it either engages in terrorism that threatens the United States or has a capability or intent to do so.
More recently, a group of Republican senators led by Scott Brown of Massachusetts introduced legislation requiring the State Department to determine whether Boko Haram should be designated as a terrorist group.
Republican Representative Patrick Meehan, who chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee in the House, also introduced an amendment that would force the administration to add Boko Haram to the terrorism list or explain why it was not doing so.
However, U.S. diplomats are weighing these demands against counter arguments, including those made by a group of academic experts on Africa who sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month urging her not to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist group.
The academics argued that the move could backfire by enhancing the group's reputation among potential recruits and other militant groups. A U.S. designation might also empower more radical elements of Boko Haram, which is divided into factions, the professors said.