Nigeria announces death of Islamic State leader in West Africa

Updated Thursday, October 14, 2021 –

The jihadist organization has not yet confirmed the death of its leader, Abu Musab Al Barnawi

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during a summit in Paris.REUTERS
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The Chief of Staff of the Nigerian Armed Forces, General Lucky Irabor, said today that he has died Abu Musab Al Barnawi, the leader of the jihadist organization Islamic State of the Province of West Africa (ISWAP), a dissident faction of the Nigerian group Boko Haram.

“I can confirm with authority that Al Barnawi is dead. Simple as that. He is dead and remains dead,” Irabor declared at a press conference in Abuja, the capital of the African country, without offering details on when, where and how he died. Jihadist leader, of whom very little is known, including his age and physical appearance.

However, ISWAP has not confirmed, to date, the death of his boss and, in the past, the Nigerian Army has claimed to have killed Islamist leaders who have later reappeared alive.

The Islamic State of the Province of West Africa confirmed last June the death of the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, who allegedly blew himself up in May this year after being captured by that rival split.

According to an internal message accessed by the Nigerian medium ‘HumAngle’, Al Barnawi himself corroborated the death of Shekau, whom he described in Hausa (one of the local languages ​​of Nigeria) as the “leader of disobedience and corruption.”

ISWAP used to reproach the leader of Boko Haram for attacking Muslims and the civilian population, since it was during Shekau’s leadership that this group began indiscriminately killing civilians and using children and women in suicide attacks.

In recent years, Shekau’s false death was announced up to five times.

ISWAP has increased the violence suffered by the northeast of the country with its attacks, in addition to spurring the confrontations between both factions.

In July 2009, the founder of Boko Haram, Muhammad Yusuf, who created the group in 2002 to denounce the abandonment of the north of the country by the authorities, died in police custody and was succeeded by Shekau, who put indiscriminate attacks against the civilian population and suicide bombings with women and children.

Since then, the northeast of the country has suffered violence from Boko Haram, which seeks to impose an Islamic state in Nigeria, a majority Muslim nation in the north and predominantly Christian in the south.

In 2015, Shekau pledged allegiance to the jihadist organization Islamic State (IS) and the group changed its name to ISWAP, but Due to his brutality, the IS decided to dismiss him in 2016 and named as leader Al Barnawi, eldest son of the founder and until then spokesman of the group, creating two factions: Boko Haram and ISWAP.

Since Shekau’s death, ISWAP appears to have become the dominant jihadist group in Nigeria, especially after the surrender thousands of alleged Boko Haram members to the Nigerian Army.

More than 35,000 people have died and the number of displaced is around two million by the bloody campaign of Boko Haram, according to the UN.

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