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What The Boko Haram Leader's Death Means For The War Against Terror

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The National

What The Boko Haram Leader's Death Means For The War Against Terror

by Jean-Loup Samaan

On June 16, Boko Haram confirmed the death of its leader Abubakar Shekau. Shekau died during clashes with the competing Islamic State for the West African Province (Iswap) in the Sambisa Forest in north-eastern Nigeria, one of the last regions controlled by Boko Haram. At first sight, the death of Shekau, the mastermind behind many atrocities committed against African civilians, may come as a relief. But it also reveals a darker reality: the steady replacement of Boko Haram by ISIS in the Lake Chad Basin region – which includes Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon – and its new security implications.

Shekau had led Boko Haram since 2009, the year the group’s founder Mohammed Yusuf died. The organisation caught international attention in 2014 with the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls that shocked the world and triggered the #BringBackOurGirls movement. But soon afterwards, Shekau and his commanders faced fierce competition from the emerging ISIS, whose extremist doctrine and military victories in Syria and Iraq during the same period, appealed to its combatants.

By 2015, Boko Haram was losing ground against the Nigerian armed forces, especially after the battle of Gwoza in March that ended in a debacle for the terrorist group. Contemplating the risk of total collapse, Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS and Boko Haram officially became Iswap. However, the partnership was no more than a marriage of convenience: ISIS commanders from the Levant provided the fighters in western Africa with technical expertise and financial support that Shekau was unable to get on his own. The propaganda machine of ISIS also proved much more effective at attracting new recruits on social media networks than Boko Haram’s.

Full story https://www.thenationalnews.com/opinion/comment/2021/08/04/what-the-boko-haram-leaders-death-means-for-the-war-against-terror/