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ISWAP Confirms Shekau’s Death, Says Its Fighters Were Following ISIS Orders

The rival terror group had disagreed with Abubakar Shekau about his excessive use of force, especially against Muslims who were not Boko Haram members.

The Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) has confirmed that former Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau blew himself up after refusing to surrender following his hideout’s invasion on Wednesday, May 19.

This was contained in an internal message from ISWAP leader, Abu Musab Albarnawi, whose recording was obtained by HumAngle on Friday. In his address, which was delivered in Hausa, he described Shekau as “the leader of disobedience and corruption” and said his fighters rejoiced over his death. He said the former terrorist leader, who took over after the death of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf in 2009, was apprehended “in the most humiliating manner.” 

“This was someone who committed unimaginable terrorism. How many has he wasted? How many has he killed? How many has he terrorised? But Allah left him alone and prolonged his life. When it was time, Allah set out brave soldiers after receiving orders from Amirul Muminin [leader of the believers],” he said.

ISWAP, which broke away from Shekau’s Boko Haram faction in 2016, disagreed with the late extremist leader over his excessive use of force, especially on Muslims in areas under his influence.

According to Abu Musab, the interim leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ordered them to take action on Shekau for deviating and killing “believers.” ISWAP fighters then took their arms, travelled through the Sahara, went into Shekau’s enclave, and engaged in a gun battle with his followers.

He initially escaped and roamed the bushes of Sambisa for five days, where he suffered seriously. However, ISWAP fighters were able to locate him. Still, Abu Musab narrated, Shekau managed to run away a second time but was chased down. The rival fighters urged him and his followers to repent, assuring him that if the ISIS leader decided to make him their leader after he had surrendered, they would have no choice but to obey.

According to Abu Musab, “Shekau preferred to be humiliated in the afterlife than getting humiliated on earth.” He killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive, exactly as HumAngle reported a day after the incident.

Abu Musab urged ISWAP fighters in Lake Chad not to sit idly and watch a sub-faction of Boko Haram, still loyal to Shekau, invade their homes, kill and abduct their wives and children, and turn them into slaves. 

He urged the rival terror group to choose dialogue against fighting; however, their end will be soon if they choose war and terrorism. “Haven’t you seen what happened to your leader who has more strength, more experience than you, yet he was defeated?”    

Abu Musab’s internal message revealed that all is not yet clear in the path of ISWAP to completely dominate the region, as hundreds of loyal fighters to Shekau in the Lake Chad basin, led by one Bakoura, had not conceded to the ISIS affiliate. Bakoura and fighters have launched resistance against ISWAP around the Republic of Niger Republic axis of the basin, killing some members of ISWAP and abducting their family members.  


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Ahmad Salkida

Ahmad Salkida is a renowned investigative reporter with over 20 years experience in conflict and development reporting. He is regarded as one of the best knowledge experts on the decade-long Boko Haram insurgency. He has done groundbreaking reporting on the multiple conflict situations in the Lake Chad region, a territory overshadowed by terrorism and famine.

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