Nigeria-based Boko Haram Islamic terror group has split into two factions, those loyal to Abubakar Shekau and the other to Abu Musab al-Barnawi, appointed and supported by Islamic State Jihadist group, ISIS. Al-Barnawi was Boko Haram’s spokesperson until he and other members defected in 2013, to form the Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Lands (Ansaru). After been appointed as the new Boko Haram leader, he threatened to bomb churches and kill Christians while ending attacks on mosques and markets. Al-Barnawi has been praising ISIS terror activities in Europe since it began. He lamented that Shekau had been busy killing Muslims instead of seeking ways to attack churches and security formations. He, however, said if Shekau repents, he will be accepted back in the fold. Al-Barnawi declared that he is in control of Shekau’s kitchen cabinet, as eight men are with him and two others about to join him. He reinstated his core desire, which is to fight for Allah and for Jihad.

Meanwhile, the deposed leader Abubakar Shekau, has denounced the ISIS declaration that Abu Musab al-Barnawi was now the leader. He accused al-Barnawi of trying to stage a coup against him. In a 10-minute audio message in both Arabic and Hausa languages, Shekau appeared to distance Boko Haram from ISIS, but still called its leader Abu Bakr el-Baghdadi “caliph”. Shekau took over as the group’s leader after its founder, Muhammad Yusuf, died in Nigeria police custody in July 2009. Under his leadership, the Islamic sect became more radical, carried out more deadly attacks against civilians and the military, and were responsible for several kidnappings. Shekau has gone underground since a Muslim President was sworn in, and he even spoke about restrategising for the terror group.

The split in Boko Haram may seem like a weakening point against the terrorists but will actually create an opportunity for the empowerment and recruitment of more fighters for the splinter terrorist groups. Shekau and al-Barnawi are not new players in the acts of terrorism and are well familiar with most of the terrain in north-eastern Nigeria and neighbouring countries which they have made their operating base. There will be fewer clashes between the groups because they have allied with al-Qaeda and ISIS at different times, whose common goal is the Islamisation of the world. Boko Haram which launched military operations in 2009 is fighting to overthrow Nigeria’s government and establish an Islamic state. The Islamic terrorist group has seized a large area in north-east, chased out occupants and declared caliphate. They are currently the deadliest terrorist organisation in the world.

Abubakar Shekau was purposely chosen to frustrate and destroy the government of a Christian President which he has achieved, in his effort to cause terror against the government of Goodluck Jonathan, he killed Christians which is justifiable and also Muslims which is not justifiable according to the Quran, but he will be forgiven quickly if he jettisons his urge for power and looks instead to the greater agenda of Islamisation of Nigeria. His allegiance with ISIS been threatened may leave him another choice to return back to the fold of al-Qaeda, which has been strengthened with the arrival of the son of Osama Bin Laden.

Abu Musab al-Barnawi has been appointed in order to claim the loyalty of Islamic terrorists in West Africa, to enable ISIS have a strong base in West Africa, to further the expansion of the Islamic caliphate. ISIS has proclaimed itself a worldwide caliphate and claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide. The terror group has control over vast landlocked territory in Iraq and Syria, with a population estimate ranging between 2.8 million and 8 million people, where it enforces its interpretation of sharia law. Through its affiliates, the terror group control some areas of Nigeria, Libya and Afghanistan and has an operational base in other parts of the world, including North Africa and South Asia. Al-Barnawi’s allegiance to ISIS will enable an increased influx of ISIS military advisers, ammunition and definitely, more coordinated and vicious terrorist attacks in Nigeria.

By Chima Onyekachi
For Biafra Reporter



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