Security agents made a breakthrough on Friday, April 1, in the fight against terrorism by arresting Khalid al-Barnawi, the leader of al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group known as Nigeria’s Ansaru jihadist group in Lokoja, capital of the central state of Kogi.
According to the military spokesman Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar, Khalid al-Barnawi is one of three Nigerians listed by Washington in 2012 as “specially designated global terrorists”.
“He is among those on top of the list of our wanted terrorists.”
The US Department of State in June 2012 named Barnawi alongside Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and Ansaru founder Abubakar Adam Kambar as terrorists and had placed a $5m (£3.5m) bounty on his head.
Ansaru is a splinter group of Nigeria’s largest jihadist group, Boko Haram, known for kidnapping foreigners.
Ideologically aligned to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, it is also accused of killing a number of Westerners.
Ansaru said it carried out an attack on a maximum security prison in the Nigerian capital Abuja in 2012, freeing dozens of inmates.
“We are very happy about this development (arrest). It is a great breakthrough in our fight against insurgency in the country,” Information Minister Lai Mohammed told AFP.
A serving army officer added that his arrest was “a huge succees and will have a profound effect on counter-terrorism operations in Nigeria and beyond”.