The group, which identifies itself as the “Islamic State in West Africa”, said Shekau blew himself up after a fight between the two rival groups.
Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the leader of the Islamic State in West Africa, said that Shekawi blew himself up with an explosive device after the organization’s fighters surrounded him in the Sambisa Forest; It is an expanse of dense forest of strategic importance, located in northeastern Nigeria, and was his hiding base.
It was reported last month that Shekau was killed, but the “Boko Haram” group itself and the Nigerian government have not yet confirmed his death.
Who is Abu Bakr Alshekawi?
Abu Bakr Shekau, also known as Shekau, took over the leadership of Boko Haram in 2009, after its leader and former founder, Muhammad Yusuf, was killed while in Nigerian police custody.
Notorious around the world, Shekau was born in Yobe state near the Niger border, and is said to have studied Islamic jurisprudence with clerics in Maiduguri, Borno State, adjacent to Yobe.
While in Maiduguri, he became acquainted with Muhammad Yusuf, founder of the “Boko Haram” movement, which means in the Hausa language, (Western education is forbidden), and became close to him and his right-hand man.
The Boko Haram movement was founded in 2002, and initially focused on rejecting the Western method of education.
Shekau, who believed that he was in his forties, like his predecessor Yusuf, blamed the West for the worsening poverty and corruption in Nigeria.
As soon as he assumed the leadership of the group, he transformed its march from a clandestine movement into an armed rebellion that swept northeastern Nigeria. Under his command, the group carried out bombings, kidnappings and arranging the escape of detainees from prisons throughout the region.
Since 2014, coinciding with the rise of the “Islamic State” organization in Iraq and Syria, and the expansion of the areas they controlled in the two countries, the group’s dreams also began to expand, and invaded towns in Nigeria in pursuit of establishing an “Islamic Caliphate” state in the region.
Shekau was inciting jihad by publishing propaganda videos glorifying Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who was killed by US Navy SEALs in an attack on his headquarters in Pakistan in 2011.
“I enjoy killing in the same way I enjoy butchering chickens and rams,” he said in one of his recordings in 2012.
Since he took the helm in 2009, more than 30,000 people have been killed, and more than two million have been driven from their homes.
In 2014, the group kidnapped hundreds of girls from a school in Chibok, Borno State, which garnered widespread global attention, and the fate of many of them remains unknown.
He also ridiculed the Nigerian authorities in many of the videos he posted, and glorified the violence carried out by the group.
The United States declared Shekau a wanted “global terrorist” and offered a reward of seven million dollars for information that would help in his arrest.
In 2015, Boko Haram announced its pledge of allegiance to the so-called Islamic State. However, the latter rejected it.
The dispute intensified between Al-Shekawi, who adopted the strict ideas of Muhammad Yusuf, and Abu Musab Al-Barnawi; The son of Muhammad Yusuf, who was nicknamed Al-Barnawi in relation to Borno State, where armed operations intensified.
In 2016, Boko Haram, the organization that became known as the “Islamic State in West Africa” under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Barnawi, split from the group.
In one of the leaked recordings, in Kanuri, obtained by Homängle; A local news website that has close links with armed groups in the region and anti-terror agencies, Al-Barnawi tells his followers: “Shekawi’s killing came in response to the orders of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, the new leader of the Islamic State, and al-Shekawi preferred to be humiliated in the afterlife rather than be humiliated by those who In the ground, he blew himself up immediately with an explosive device.
Al-Barnawi said in his statement that Al-Shekawi initially survived the attack on the Sambisa Forest, and was able to hide from ISIS fighters for five days, and after finding him, he refused an offer to surrender and committed suicide.
Vincent Fucher, an expert on Islamist extremism in Nigeria, told the Global Crisis Group: “Al-Barnawi, who is seen as a relative moderate among extremist leaders in the region, was given the leadership role through a ‘watch mission’ assigned to him by the Islamic State from the Middle East at a time when earlier this year.”
It is not yet clear what the death of Shekau means for Boko Haram, but it is clear that it is unlikely to mark the end of the jihadist group in West Africa, says Mayeni Jones of the BBC team in the Nigerian capital, Lagos.
This is because the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) group has steadily become a prominent group in the region and has launched a number of successful attacks against the Nigerian army.
Analysts are quoted as saying that this group may begin to lure Shekawi’s fighters to join its ranks.
For Maini, that is both a bad and a good thing. It could result in less violent clashes between the two rival groups, but it could also mean that the so-called Islamic State’s foothold in West Africa could be broadly strengthened.
The alternative option is for Shekawi fighters to join the fighting forces of other extremist groups in the area or form their own armed faction.
This could have disastrous effects on northeastern Nigeria, as it could lead to more fighting between the various armed groups, and civilians would become hostages amid the fighting between them.