ISIS picks new Boko Haram leader

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ISIS has picked Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new leader of Boko Haram after Abubakar Shekau’s exit – Al-Barnawi was the spokesperson of the group under Shekau – ISIS did not say what happened to Shekau who has been out of the picture since 2015 The Islamic State (ISIS) militant group has named a new leader for terrorist group Boko Haram. The new leader is Abu Musab al-Barnawi, who was former spokesman for the group, BBC reports. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Boko Haram former leader Abubakar Shekau ISIS revealed the identity of the new leader, but did not say what has happened to the group’s former leader, Abubakar Shekau, who was last heard from in an audio message in August 2015. Boko Haram had on March 7, 2015, pledged allegiance to the leadership of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

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The pledge was made by Shekau, who addressed himself as the Imam of Ja­maátu Ahlus Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad (Boko Haram) and was addressed to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Husseini al-Qurashi, the lead­er of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). A week after Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance, the ISIS leadership in a statement accepted the sect into its fold and promise to work with it to establish an ISIS cell in West Africa. In an audio message, a man who claimed to be the spokesperson for ISIS, said the group’s aim of establishing a caliphate has now been expanded to West Africa.

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ISIS has a few foreign groups from which it has accepted pledges, including Ansar Bayt al-Maqdisi in the Egyptian Sinai and groups of fighters in strategic areas of Libya. However, following fight back from the Nigerian Army Shekau in an attempt to es­cape the heat of on-going military operations in North-East Nigeria, reportedly changed his physical ap­pearance to go into hideout. There were also reports that Shekau may have fled Nigeria through the help of ISIS groups operating in East and North Africa. It would be recalled that under the administration of former president, Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigeria military had claimed to have killed Shekau on several occasions but the leader kept returning to shoot down the reports. Al-Barnawi’s appointment is coming after the federal government and army recently claimed that Boko Haram were technically defeated.

Boko Haram former leader Abubakar Shekau

This latest development is bound to jolt the Nigerian military which has recorded successes against the terrorist group in the last year. Among other terrorizing activities, Boko Haram is responsible for the abduction of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls in April 2014. The group’s seven-year insurgency has left at least 20,000 people dead, particularly from the north-east.

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