After the death of its founder, Muhammad Yusuf, in Nigerian police custody in July 2009, the leadership of the Boko Haram group founded in 2002 has changed again. First, it was Abubakar Shekau in 2009 and now a new Leader has been named, Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
On Wednesday, August 3, 2016, the Islamic State (IS) militant group announced that one of its affiliates, Boko Haram in Nigeria has a new leader by the name Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the previous spokesman for the group.
It was published in IS’s latest magazine, with no claim of what happened to Abubakar Shekau, the group’s former leader after he was last heard from an audio message in August 2016 denying his death as claimed by the Nigerian government.
Since the emergence of the new government, the terrorist group – Boko Haram – which has existed from 7 years now and has left over 20,000 people dead in the north-east has lost most of the territory it controlled.
Not much is in public light about Abu Musab al-Barnawi. When he appeared in a Boko Haram video in January 2015 as the group’s spokesman, he wore a turban and his face was blurred out and it was filmed as a sit-down studio interview where his speech pulled no strong indications as he merely threatened that towns which resisted Boko Haram in its mission to create an Islamic state would be flattened.
Though Abubakar Shekau, the former leader of Boko Haram, earlier today (Thursday, August 4, 2016) released an audio message accusing Al-Barnawi of attempting to arrange a coup against him and claiming that he is still in charge of the Nigerian militant group.
About Abu Musab al-Barnawi
Though no specific date of birth is known, he was born in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria around 1976. He is known by other names such as Khaled Barnawi, Khaled al-Barnawi, Khaled el-Barnaoui, Abu Hafsat and Muhammad Usman.
Al-Barnawi has maintained the leadership position of another Islamic group Ansaru which emerged in 2012, before his emergence as the new leader of the terrorist group – Boko Haram . He was said to have drifted from Ansaru to Boko Haram in favour of for-profit kidnappings.
He was trained in Algeria under AQIM in the mid-2000s where he developed internationalist Islamist ideologies. His involvement in the group has strengthened Boko Haram’s ties with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Shabab, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), and notorious al-Qaeda group. He has also carried out kidnappings for numerous jihadist groups like Ansaru, Boko Haram, MUJWA and AQIM.
On June 21, 2012, he was designated by the Untied States Department of State as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224 and like the previous leader, al-Barnawi has refused to show his face or issue individual statements.
Before Al-Barnawi, Abubakar Shekau under his rule was often filmed in the open, surrounded by fighters, loudly proclaiming his threats, victories and giving rambling ideological lectures, speaking of being against democracy and foreign education. Under his leadership Boko Haram became more radical, carried out more killings and swore allegiance to IS in March 2015, maintaining that IS was still strong in Nigeria will continue to fight West African governments.
The group also released many videos where Mr Shekau sneered at the Nigerian authorities, celebrating the group’s violent acts including the abduction of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls in April 2014. In other videos, he explained the group’s idea defining the name Boko Haram to mean “Western education is forbidden” in Hausa.
- ‘Seyifunmi Adebote for encomium.ng