Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau killed himself in a fight towards rival jihadist fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in line with audio AFP obtained from the group Sunday, two weeks after stories emerged that he had died.
His dying marks a significant shift in Nigeria’s 12-year-old jihadist insurgency that has killed greater than 40,000 folks and displaced round two million in the northeast.
Boko Haram has not but formally commented on the dying of their leader whereas the Nigerian military mentioned it was investigating the declare.
“Shekau preferred to be humiliated in the hereafter to getting humiliated on Earth. He killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive,” mentioned a voice resembling that of ISWAP leader Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, talking in the Kanuri language.
The audio, which was not dated, was given to AFP by the identical supply who conveyed earlier messages from the group.
ISWAP described in the audio the way it despatched fighters to Boko Haram’s enclave in the Sambisa forest, that they discovered Shekau sitting inside his home and engaged him in a firefight.
“From there he retreated and escaped, ran and roamed the bushes for five days. However, the fighters kept searching and hunting for him before they were able to locate him,” the voice mentioned.
After discovering him in the bush, ISWAP fighters urged him and his followers to repent, the voice added, however Shekau refused and killed himself.
“We are so happy,” the voice mentioned, describing Shekau as “the big troublemaker, persecutor and destructive leader of the nation.”
ISWAP break up from Boko Haram in 2016, objecting to Shekau’s indiscriminate concentrating on of Muslim civilians and use of ladies suicide bombers.
– Atrocities –
“This was someone who committed unimaginable terrorism and atrocities. For how long has he been leading people astray? How many times has he destroyed and abused people?” the voice mentioned.
In the previous two years, ISWAP emerged because the extra dominant drive in the area, finishing up large-scale assaults towards the Nigerian army.
As the group now seems to soak up Shekau’s fighters and territory, Nigeria’s military probably faces a extra unified jihadist drive, analysts say.
But ISWAP may wrestle to manage or persuade Boko Haram factions loyal to Shekau exterior Sambisa, particularly in border areas.
“It may not be over yet,” one safety supply mentioned. “ISWAP will have to subdue or convince these camps to coalesce (them) into its fold to fully consolidate its control.”
Jihadist infighting might current alternatives for Nigeria’s military to grab.
But ought to ISWAP take up a part of Shekau’s males and weapons, it is perhaps in a place to chop off roads to and from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, mentioned Peccavi Consulting, a threat group specialising in Africa.
“If ISWAP convinces Shekau’s forces to join them, they will be controlling the majority of the enemy forces as well as having a presence in most of the ungoverned spaces in the northeast,” it mentioned in a observe.
Since 2019, Nigeria’s military has pulled out of villages and smaller bases to hunker down in so-called “supercamps”, a method critics say permits jihadists to roam free in rural areas.
Following its takeover of Sambisa, ISWAP despatched messages to locals in the Lake Chad area, telling them they have been welcome to its self-declared “caliphate”, mentioned Sallau Arzika, a fisherman from Baga.
Locals have been chased out of the lake islands after ISWAP accused them of spying for the army. Al-Barnawi mentioned they might now return for fishing and buying and selling after paying tax, with the reassurance they’d not be harmed, Arzika mentioned.