In his file image taken from video released late Friday evening, Oct. 31, 2014, by Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, centre, the leader of Nigeria's Islamic extremist group.

In his file image taken from video released late Friday evening, Oct. 31, 2014, by Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, centre, the leader of Nigeria's Islamic extremist group. AP Photo/Boko Haram

What to Watch Next After ISIS's Boko Haram Coup

Boko Haram’s former leader has not given up his global jihad, despite being snubbed by ISIS in early August.

Since Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to self-proclaimed Islamic State’s leader Abubakar al-Baghdadi in March 2015, Boko Haram has been known as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP). From that pledge until August 8, 2016, the formerly bombastic Shekau had not been seen publicly. During this period, Shekau and his former rival for Boko Haram leadership, Mamman Nur, appear to have been locked in a factional feud, with the two of them sending audios behind-the-scenes condemning one another. Nevertheless, until August 3 the Islamic State recognized Shekau as the “wali,” or governor, of ISWAP.

Mamman Nur is wanted by Interpol and the FBI for masterminding the UN Headquarters attack in Abuja in August 2011, which killed more than twenty people. Nur accuses Shekau of being dictatorial, religiously uncompromising, killing or maiming (via sharia punishment) innocent Muslim civilians, and burning down mosques over small “violations,” including being disloyal to Shekau. There are also disagreements between Islamic State leadership, Nur, and Shekau over the practice of slavery and the fate of the Chibok captives as well as Shekau’s “not giving enough weapons to soldiers [of the other faction],” which forced them to withdraw and “be replaced by unbelievers” in the “Islamic State.” Nur’s criticisms of Shekau resemble those of other breakaway factions, such as the Yusufiya Islamic Movement in 2011 and al-Qaeda in the Magreb (AQIM)-aligned Ansaru in 2012-2013.

On August 3, the Islamic State announced that Nur-aligned Abu Musab al-Barnawi (the son of Boko Haram’s founder, Muhammed Yusuf) is the new “wali” of ISWAP. Shekau immediately responded with an audio, where he made clear that he is reverting to his former position as “imam” of Jamaatu ahlis Sunna li’Dawati wal Jihad (JAS, the original name of the surviving followers of Muhammed Yusuf). In the audio, Shekau complained that Caliph al-Baghdadi did not respond to his messages about Abu Musab al-Barnawi’s “unbelief.” On August 8, JAS then released a video of Shekau acknowledging Abu Musab al-Barnawi is the new “wali” of ISWAP, but that he will continue the “jihad against Nigeria and the world” as the leader of JAS.

So, the catch now is that the ISWAP faction and Shekau’s JAS faction all still consider Abubakar al-Baghdadi as the caliph. The Islamic State, however, only recognizes ISWAP and the “governorship” of al-Barnawi. Shekau, therefore, is no longer with the Islamic State. But his JAS faction may still be larger and stronger than ISWAP.

Read more: This is the War Against al-Qaeda the Next US President Will Inherit
See also: China’s Rising Near This Key US War Base. Here’s How We Push Back
And: Don’t Give Up on the African Union Mission Yet

Moving forward there are three main questions.

First, will the rise of Abu Musab al-Barnawi to the leadership of ISWAP lead to changes on the ground, such as a renewed focus on Niger? Moreover, could Nur’s connections to militancy in the Sahel attract the so-called Islamic State’s sub-Saharan African foreign fighters who are now fleeing Libya, thus allowing ISWAP to launch attacks outside of the Lake Chad region? If so, this could bolster al-Barnawi’s claim to leadership vis-à-vis Shekau.

Second, can the Islamic State instigate a factional truce between JAS and ISWAP? For example, Shekau and al-Barnawi could both be “governors” of different “provinces” based on their respective strengths in Borno State and the Lake Chad basin area. Though, the animosity and ideological divide between the two factions and Islamic State’s own struggles in Libya will make this an unlikely prospect.

Third, where does al-Qaeda stand in relation to the feud? In other theaters, such as Yemen and Afghanistan, al-Qaeda deployed loyalists to infiltrate, divide, and weaken Islamic State’s new provinces and pull fighters back to al-Qaeda’s orbit. Could al-Qaeda do the same through covert operations, making use of AQIM? On the one hand Nur has a history of being aligned with AQIM, while there may be regret in Shekau’s faction about having joined Islamic State and a desire for new resources and legitimacy.

It will also be important to see whether Nigeria can exploit the internal ideological differences among these groups to isolate one or both factions and benefit from a potentially weakened insurgency due to infighting.

This post appears courtesy of CFR.org.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.