By Julian Pecquet - 06/21/12 04:33 PM EDT
The State Department on Thursday designated the leader of Nigeria's Boko Haram organization and two of his acolytes as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” for their role in attacks on Christian churches and other targets.
Boko Haram – Hausa for “Western education is sinful” – is accused of killing more than 1,000 people, mostly civilians, in the past 18 months. The group, whose full name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, has also been linked to an attack on the United Nations building in Abuja last year.
Abubakar Shekau is the group's most visible leader, according to the State Department. Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi, for their part, have “close ties” to Boko Haram and “close links” to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. Boko Haram itself has not been designated as a terror group.