ISWAP Terror Group Says Nigeria’s Boko Haram Chief Has Died
Story Code : 936836
Shekau died around May 18 after detonating an explosive device when he was pursued by ISWAP fighters following a battle, a person purporting to be ISWAP leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi said on the audio recording, heard by Reuters on Sunday.
"Abubakar Shekau, God has judged him by sending him to heaven," he can be heard saying.
Two people familiar with al-Barnawi told Reuters the voice on the recording was that of the ISWAP leader.
A Nigerian intelligence report shared by a government official and Boko Haram researchers have also said Shekau is dead.
Last month, Nigeria’s military said it was investigating Shekau’s alleged death, also reported in Nigerian and foreign news outlets. The audio statement, first obtained by local media, is ISWAP’s first confirmation that its arch rival in the Lake Chad region has been killed.
Daesh is "consolidating the whole area, the Lake Chad region and (Shekau's stronghold)," said Bulama Bukarti, an analyst specializing in Boko Haram at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
"ISWAP had framed Shekau as the problem and he was the only person they wanted to remove," Bukarti said of Daesh's attempt to lure Boko Haram commanders and fighters to their side.
Shekau's death could lead to the end of a violent rivalry between the two groups, enabling ISWAP to absorb Boko Haram fighters and consolidate its hold on territory in northeastern Nigeria, political analysts said.
That would allow ISWAP to focus its attention on the government and military, whose war efforts are languishing.