Friday, February 24, 2017

Nigeria: Chief Of Boko Haram Kills One Of The Commanders For Conspiracy

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said he killed one of his prominent members, accused of plotting against him, in a climate of divisions and fratricidal struggles within the Nigerian jihadist group.

In the sound recording of a meeting organized by Shekau and his commanders, obtained by AFP, the leader of the group announces to have "killed Tasiu" - also known as Abu Zinnira. This commander appears as one of the spokesmen in several videos of the group, in particular, the one that had claimed the abduction of the high school girls of Chibok in 2014.

"Listen to me: I killed Tasiu, listen to me well," Shekau repeats in this recording, intended for members of the jihadist movement.

The meeting, which took place on December 18, was aimed at "silence the rumors surrounding the death of Tasiu," according to Shekau, the head of the Islamist group since 2009 after the death of its founder Mohamed Yusuf.

Yan St-Pierre, a counter-terrorism consultant for MOSECON (Modern Security Consulting Group), supports these statements, saying there were "many internal speculations about his fate." "Members of the group were worried about his disappearance for quite some time."

"The goal of Shekau is to send a clear message to the majority of its fighters," the expert from the jihadist movements said, and to inform them of this "purge" against anyone who could challenge his power.

In the latter audio recording, Shekau accuses Abu Zinnira of attempting to overthrow him with another commander, Baba Ammar. They also accuse them of fighting without his consent and of having made the rumor that he had become incapable of carrying out the insurrection.

"Tell me what is the punishment for those who plot against their leader?" Shekau asked during the meeting. "By our code of allegiance, we will not hesitate to punish any element that commits this crime".

"Lawyers sent by the devil are at work, and try to instill doubt into the minds of our fighters, for they now realize that we are about to win our jihad," says Shekau, though in a weak position, Against the Nigerian security forces, and against his own clan.

- Paranoia -

Abubakar Shekau is the most famous face of this insurrection which has made at least 20,000 dead and 2.6 million displaced. It appears in several videos to claim attacks, often appearing delusional.

But last August, the organization of the Islamic State, to which Boko Haram pledged allegiance in 2015, appointed another "wali" (leader) in the person of Abu Mosab Al Barnaoui - son of founder Mohamed Yusuf - To lead the Islamic State of West Africa ".

Al Barnaoui and his right-hand man Mamman Nur were already reproaching Shekau for his "dictatorial tendencies" and accused him of murdering commanders in paranoia.

Abu Zinnira, who appeared on videos still in military camouflage uniform, with a turban on his head and a hidden face, was considered a spokesman for Boko Haram, "a well-known figure," according to St-Pierre, "Which reached consensus in several circles of the group".

"These revelations only confirm the reports that have been circulating for several months on the particularly intense disputes between Shekau and his commanders on issues of strategy, tactics, and logistics," analyzes Nnamdi Obasi, for International Crisis Group.

"Eliminating opponents, whether real or fantasized, can, however, have a double effect," the researcher, based in Abuja, told AFP. "This can consolidate Shekau's power, which would be surrounded by a hardcore and loyal, or create more divisions and thus weaken this group faction."

As of now, although the Nigerian jihadist group claims very little of its attacks, the difference between the two factions is increasingly remarkable.

The Nigerian army claimed in December to have "cleaned the forest of Sambisa", a stronghold of the faction Shekau, whose fighters were entrenched further north, towards Marte.

And Al-Barnaoui's faction, active on the outlines of Lake Chad and on the Niger border, is regularly attacking the security forces.

On Friday, 7 Nigerian soldiers were killed by this group during an attack on a military post in the north-east of the country.

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