July 28, 2021

Boko Haram confirms death of historic leader Abubakar Shekau

The Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram has confirmed the death of its historic leader, Abubakar Shekau, who died in fighting with the rival group Islamic State in West Africa (Islamic State’s West Africa Province, Iswap), Bakura Modu said, said Sahaba, the alleged new leader, in a video sent Wednesday June 16 to AFP by verified sources.

Sahaba, a prominent Boko Haram commander known by experts to be based on Lake Chad, asks “Allah to bless the soul of Shekau”, death “As a martyr” and accuses the leader of Iswap, “Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, this perverse aggressor”, for having killed him.

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In his message, spoken in Arabic and which stops very abruptly in the middle of a sentence for no apparent reason, the one who presents himself as the new leader of this former Islamic sect transformed into a violent jihadist movement, calls for revenge against the rival group, which split from Boko Haram in 2016.

Nearly 36,000 dead since 2009

Iswap last week announced the death of Abubakar Shekau, the group’s historic leader since the death of founder Mohammed Yusuf in 2009, who allegedly blew himself up during fighting between the two rival groups in the Sambisa Forest, in northeastern Nigeria. This announcement confirmed many rumors giving Abubakar Shekau for dead since May.

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Iswap, recognized by the Islamic State group, was born in 2016 from a split with Boko Haram, which it accuses in particular of the murders of Muslim civilians. After gaining in strength, it is now the dominant jihadist group in northeastern Nigeria, increasing the scale of attacks against the Nigerian army.

Since 2019, the Nigerian army has withdrawn from villages and small bases, to take refuge in « supercamps », a strategy criticized because it allows jihadists to move unhindered in rural areas.

Since the rebellion of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram began in 2009 in northeast Nigeria, the conflict has left nearly 36,000 dead and two million displaced.

The World with AFP