Nigeria – Unrest – Terrorists – ISIS

Uncertainty over ISIS-Linked Boko Haram’s Leadership

Uncertainty over ISIS-Linked Boko Haram’s Leadership
Wed Aug 3, 2016 18:22:14

Boko Haram, a Nigerian terrorist group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL), may have a new leader, according to the terrorist group’s online weekly Al-Naba.

“In his first interview with Al-Naba magazine since his appointment as governor of west Africa, Sheikh Abu Musab al-Barnawi talks about the history of jihad in this region,” read the 41st edition of the magazine, published on Tuesday.

In the interview, Barnawi makes no clear reference to the movement’s leader Abubakar Shekau, except for a mention of Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS in March 2015.

Since the pledge, Barnawi has appeared in several videos distributed by Boko Haram, claiming responsibility for successive attacks, earning him the reputation of group spokesman, experts say.

Meanwhile, speculation over the fate — and alleged disappearance — of Shekau has been rife in recent months.

He last appeared in a video posted on YouTube in March, looking weak, and saying: “For me, the end has come.”

A Nigerian security analyst told AFP he believed Shekau is alive, but that ISIS may be seeking to clean up Boko Haram’s reputation among terrorists, by getting rid of a leader seen as disorganized and unreliable.

Barnawi may have taken over from Shekau, said Yan St-Pierre, a specialist on jihadist groups who works for the Modern Security Consulting Group (Mosecon).

Under Shekau’s leadership, “Boko Haram has lost its prestige and become difficult to control. Today Boko Haram is divided into several little groups.”

Shekau became Boko Haram leader after the Nigerian security forces executed the group’s founding chief Mohammed Yusuf in 2009, sparking an insurgency that has left 20,000 people dead and forced 2.6 million people to flee their homes, AFP reported.

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