The death of the leader of the Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram has been confirmed by a rival extremist faction that said it carried out the killing on the direct orders of Islamic State’s leadership thousands of miles away in the Middle East.
Abubakar Shekau, one of the most infamous leaders of Islamic militant groups anywhere in the world, died last month after detonating an explosive device while being pursued by fighters from the Islamic State West African Province (Iswap). The Iswap fighters had stormed the Sambisa forest, a swath of strategically important dense forest in Nigeria’s north-east, which was Shekau’s base.
His death both delighted and embarrassed Nigerian and international security services, who spent a decade devoting huge resources on hunting down Shekau. That the operation against Shekau was launched on the direct orders of the leadership of Isis in the Middle East, which is concerned by Boko Haram’s indiscriminate targeting of “believers”, underlines the continuing global reach of the group through its affiliates and the possibility of further expansion in Africa.
Islamic extremist factions across the Sahel have intensified attacks in recent months, bringing fresh levels of violence in some regions. More than 120 villagers died in an attack in Burkina Faso last week in one of the bloodiest such massacres yet recorded. No group has claimed responsibility. On an audio tape obtained by Humangle, a respected local news website with strong contacts among insurgents and counter-terrorist agencies, the Iswap leader, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, can be heard telling followers that the death of Shekau came in response to orders from the new leader of Islamic State, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction