Although local Nigerian media had already left Abu Musab Al-Barnawi for dead, it was until this Thursday that the country’s authorities confirmed his death, without clarifying details about the events surrounding his death.
The Nigerian authorities confirmed this Thursday, October 14, the death of Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the leader of an extremist group linked to the self-styled Islamic State in West Africa, which is attributed the death of hundreds of people in northeast Nigeria.
“I can say with certainty that Al-Barnawi is dead,” said the Chief of the General Staff, General Lucky Irabor at a press conference, without giving details about the circumstances that led to his death.
The Daily Trust, a northern Nigerian newspaper, reported that Al-Barnawi had died in late August, but at the time cited unidentified sources. The newspaper said that different sources had given different versions of how the ISWAP leader had died. At the moment the way in which he died is not yet known.
The Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, has confirmed the killing of Leader of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), Abu Musab Al-Barnawi.
– Daily Trust (@daily_trust) October 14, 2021
Al-Barnawi was the leader of the jihadist group Iswap (Islamic State in West Africa) founded in 2016 from a split with the terrorist group Boko Haram, which is blamed for the slaughter of hundreds of Muslim civilians.
Since May, when the death of the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, was known in clashes with the Iswap group, the latter group has consolidated control over northeastern Nigeria, as well as in the Lake Chad region, where loyal to Boko Haram continue to fight their rivals.
“If Al Barnawi is dead, his death may not have much of an impact on Iswap due to the structure of the group,” said Malik Samuel, a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies.
Since the break with Boko Haram, Iswap has undergone some five leadership changes, but this has not stopped him from continuing his deadly attacks on security forces.
Who was Abu Musab al-Barnawi?
He was born in 1994 to the son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in Nigerian Police custody in 2009 in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria. As his father’s successor at just 15 years old, he starred in the bloodiest stage of Nigerian jihadism, with multiple attacks in the main cities and massacres in towns.
His dominance quickly spread throughout the western region, leading to the creation of a caliphate and coordinating constant mass kidnappings from schools, such as that of the Chibok girls in 2014.
His first appearance in a Boko Haram video dates back to 2015, when he acted as a spokesperson, claiming responsibility for the Baga massacre, a series of mass killings in this northeastern Nigerian city.
In 2016, at just 22 years old, he was endorsed by the self-styled Islamic State as the leader of its armed wing in the region.
With the death of this jihadist leader, the Islamic State, which has hit countries such as Mozambique, Burundi or Niger, has lost two of its operational leaders: Al-Saharawi, assassinated by French military forces last September in Mali and now Al-Barnawi, whose death status is unknown.
With AP and Reuters