Nigerian Army says the leader of a group linked to ISIS is dead

Lagos, Nigeria — Nigerian troops claimed on Thursday that Abmusab Alvarnawi, the leader of an ISIS-related militant group accused of killing hundreds in the northeast, had died. There was no immediate confirmation from the militants.

At a press conference, Nigeria’s Chief of the Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor, told reporters: He provided no further information and could not independently support his claim.

The announcement came only five months after Al Barnawi and his army claimed responsibility for the murder of rival radical leader Abubakar Shekau.

According to some reports, Al Barnawi was fatally injured during a clash with yet another rival militant, but the military did not provide details on how he confirmed his death.

Alvarnawi was just a teenager when his father Mohammed Yusuf was killed by Nigerian security forces in 2009. The death of the founder, Boko Haram, fueled a more than a decade of rebellion against the Nigerian government and eventually spread to neighboring Nigeria. , Chad and Cameroon too.

After Yusuf’s death, Shekau took command of the group, but frequently clashed with Al Barnawi, who reportedly was chosen by the ISIS organization to lead Boko Haram, for many years. Instead, a separatist faction was formed in 2016 to become known as the Islamic State of West Africa, or ISWAP.

Unlike the Shekau group, which often targets civilians violently, ISWAP under the Alvarnawi administration targeted those who supported the Nigerian army and soldiers. But it raised global concern when it began targeting civilians working for international aid organizations in the northeast with a series of kidnappings and killings.

Meanwhile, the faction led by Shekau has weakened in recent years, and his death was announced in May. Later, ISWAP tried to expand its reach, but Alvarnawi failed to acquire thousands of Shekau followers, many of whom surrendered to the Nigerian army instead.

According to UN officials, the conflict in northeastern Nigeria directly killed 36,000 people and evacuated more than 2.3 million.

By Chinedu Asadu

Associated Press


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