DAESH appoints new Boko Haram leader

Abubakar Shekau, the previous leader of Boko Haram militant group, said he was deceived but will never stray away from the group's ideology in a recorded message hours after DAESH named the Nigeria-based group’s new leader.

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Former Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaks at an unknown location in this still image taken from an undated video released by Nigerian militant group Boko Haram.

The DAESH terrorist group on Tuesday announced the appointment of its new "governor" for West Africa, a title they use in reference to the leader of its affiliated Boko Haram militant group.

According to SITE, an intelligence group that monitors the online activities of terrorist organisations, Abu Musab al Barnawi was declared as the new leader of the Nigeria-based militant group in an interview published in DAESH’s weekly magazine Al Naba.

Barnawi appeared in a Boko Haram video in January 2015 as a spokesman for the group, which pledged allegiance to DAESH last year.

In a Jan 2015 vid, Barnawi was identified as the spokesman for Jamaat Ahl al-Sunnah Lil Dawa Wal Jihad (#BokoHaram) pic.twitter.com/tYmkaQTu8P

— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) 2 Austos 2016

Boko Haram became active in northern Nigeria in 2009, carrying out sporadic attacks in the region. In 2014, its militants kidnapped around 280 girls from a school in the Chibok town of Borno state.

The group has also expanded its campaign beyond Nigeria, carrying out terrorist attacks on neighbouring countries including Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

At least 20,000 people have been killed in its trail of destruction and 2.2 million others have been forced to flee their homes, triggering a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

A young child lays in the arms of a displaced woman at the Malkohi Internally Displaced Person Camp in Yola, Nigeria, April 22, 2016. (AP Archive)

The publication by Al Naba did not mention the current status of Barnawi’s predecessor Abubakar Shekau, sparking long-standing debates over his fate.

Shekau has been reported dead many times, but he has often released videos or audio messages to prove that he is alive.

According to Sahara Reporters, a website covering news from Africa, Shekau released an audio message hours after the new leader was made public.

In his 10-minute-long message he said he was deceived, but will never stray away from the ideology of his group.

“We have heard news going round and attributed to people we had earlier pledge allegiance to. Even though we are not against them based on the message we heard in the world radio but we are still on our ideology,” Shekau was quoted as saying.

“We know those we differ with, and I have written on this long ago. All we wrote have been documented with me, some eight pages and some nine pages stating their kind of ideology,” he continued.

“Because I stated it clear that I am against the principle where someone will dwell in the society with the infidels without making public his opposition or anger against infidels.”

“That is where I am, to them, a Muslim can dwell in the society and do his marketing compromising core foundations.”

A screenshot taken on July 13, 2014 from a video released by the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram shows Abubakar Shekau at the center. (AFP)

Sahara Reporters said that Shekau’s message was a clear sign of ideological differences and division among Boko Haram militants, who have suffered major losses in recent years.

Before 2015, a swathe of land in northeast Nigeria around the size of Belgium was under the control of Boko Haram, but the group was pushed out early last year by Nigerian government forces and its allies.

However, it continues to carry out suicide bombings in northeast Nigeria, focusing on crowded public places such as mosques and markets.

TRTWorld and agencies