On August 3rd 2016, the Islamic State (IS) announced via the 41st issue of its newspaper al-Naba, a new leader for Boko Haram, its West African affiliate in Nigeria.
His name is Abu Musab Al-Barnawi and very little is known about him except for the fact that he was a former spokesperson for Boko Haram
President Muhammad Buhari’s pledge to fight terrorism head-on in his administration has seen the Islamic-sect Boko Haram lose most of the territory it controlled barely 18 months ago.
Its former leader, Abubakar Shekau, who took over from the founder of the terrorist group Muhammad Yusuf, was last heard from in August 2015, in an audio record tape where he boasted about being alive and evading the Nigerian military. Yusuf was publicly executed outside the police headquarters in Maiduguri.
Under Shekau’s administration, the terrorist group became ruthless and its seven-year insurgency left more than 20,000 people dead, mostly in the northern part of the country.
On 14 April 2014, Boko Haram coordinated the kidnapping of 274 female students in the town of Chibok in Borno state. The abduction got widespread condemnation worldwide, with many pointing fingers at former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration for its “weak and slow” handling of the terrorist group.
Even though the Nigerian army claimed to have either killed or captured Shekau, he continued to taunt the Nigerian Authorities in numerous recordings.
According to reports, IS were annoyed by Shekau’s orders to use children as suicide bombers, and his defiance of instructions to stop and extremism eventually led to his termination.
“He’s been told by ISIL to stop doing that (using Children as suicide bombers) but he has not done so. That is one of the reasons why this splinter group has broken off,” Marine Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser told Reuters in June.
In late March 2015, Boko Haram announced its allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Even though there is little information about al-Barnawi, Information Nigeria understands he appeared once in a Boko Haram clip around 2015, posing as the group’s spokesman.
In one of his interviews, he was strongly against the name Boko Haram, which translates as “Western Education is Forbidden” in Hausa.