If Nigerian terrorist leader Abubakar Shekau died in the battle against Isis, it could tell the story of the international jihadist movement’s victory in West Africa.
Rumors has been wild for more than two weeks, but there is still no complete certainty.
The allegation of a Nigerian terrorist leader Abubakar Shekaun the death originally spread in the international media as early as May 21st. At the time, the U.S. business magazine The Wall Street Journal said From Shekau’s death, relying on intelligence sources.
The Nigerian army fighting Boko Haram has not confirmed the death so far. There must be an understandable explanation for this. The Nigerian armed forces have already declared Shekau dead at least three times, but time and time again Shekau has stepped out in public.
Eventually on Sunday, June 6, the jihadist network of Isis in the West African Chamber of Iswap reported on the matter. According to the gun group, Shekau died on May 19 while fleeing Iswap’s gunmen. Shekau had committed suicide by triggering an explosive belt, according to the group.
Similar information had circulated in the media before.
If the description is true and Shekau is really dead, there may be moments of fate for Boko Haram ahead. The death of one terrorist leader still hardly stops the march of jihadist movements in West Africa.
Boko Haram is a fun language, and it roughly means “Western education is a sin”. The name has not been invented by the organization itself, but comes from the mouths of the people.
The name sums up well what Boko Haram has become particularly well known for: attacks on Western educational institutions and brutal abductions of students.
Boko Haram was not born from scratch but evolved from something.
As early as the early 2000s, the northern parts of Nigeria were influenced by the extremist Islamic sect. Its charismatic leader Muhammad Yusuf wanted a pre-colonial Islamic state for the region. Her supporters violently opposed Westernization, democracy, and a modern education system where girls are also allowed to get an education.
In July 2009, Nigerian security forces struck a mosque in the town of Maidugur in northern Nigeria. The attack killed about a hundred members of the sect. Its leader, Yusuf, was interrogated, after which he was shot and thrown into a mass grave.
After that, the sect only radicalized. Abubakar Shekau became the leader. He incited members of the sect into a holy war against police officers, Christians, educational institutions, and more moderate Muslims whom they considered traitors.
Thus Nigeria, the largest country in Africa in terms of population and economy, began a devastating war. Tens of thousands of people have died in fighting in northern Nigeria, from which Boko Haram was able to conquer vast areas for himself. The organization is particularly known for the brutal school attacks that have kidnapped thousands of girls and boys over the years.
Boko Haram initially swore allegiance to the jihadist network Isis, which now established an already collapsed Islamic state in Iraq and Syria. Something about the radicality and cruelty of Abubakar Shekau is that he was too much even for Isis.
Isis first tried to change the leader of Boko Haram, but this failed. Eventually, in 2016, a particle came out of Boko Haram, which became Isis of West Africa, or Iswap.
Since then, Boko Haram has fought not only the Nigerian army but also Iswap.
Something about the radicality and cruelty of Abubakar Shekau is that he was too much even for Isis.
Sahelin there are several influential jihadist movements in the area that affect the security of many states. In addition to Nigeria, there are Islamist arms organizations in Mali in particular that are fighting against Westernization, democracy and modern education.
The same development has been seen in East Africa, where the jihadist movement in northern Mozambique has ignited a devastating civil war.
The goal of Iswap is the same as that of Boko Haram: the establishment of an Islamic state in northern Nigeria. It may be that Iswap does not use quite as cruel a means to achieve the goal as Boko Haram, but the war is likely to continue.
If Abubakar Shekau is dead, it is possible that some of his followers will merge with Iswap, the international organization Isis.
It would make the West African Isis even stronger and at the same time underline the organization’s own message: while the development of the “Islamic Caliphate” in the Middle East did not go according to plan, in certain areas of Africa jihadism is headwind.
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