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Islamic State-Linked Boko Haram Splinter Group Abducts Oil Workers in Nigeria

8/5/2017 12:00:00 AM   |      |   

 The Boko Haram faction is benefiting from the ongoing chaos in war-ravaged Libya where ISIS still maintains a presence.

Last year, ISIS named Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new leader of its Boko Haram wing known as the West Africa Province.

Reuters reports:

Since Islamic State named al-Barnawi as Boko Haram’s leader in August 2016 after the west African militants pledged allegiance the previous year, his Lake Chad-based faction has been moving fighters and ammunition across porous borders in northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad.

Members of the Islamic State, also known as IS, are believed to be regrouping in Libya, preparing to once again establish a stronghold in the North African country for the group to use as a base after its defeat in Iraq and Syria.

The head of a private Nigerian security firm told Reuters on condition of anonymity that “al-Barnawi’s IS affiliation meant his wing benefits from sub-Saharan trade routes to ship weapons from lawless Libya where Islamic State is active.”

ISIS’s decision to designate Barnawi as the chief of Boko Haram created a rift between him and Abubakar Shekau, who refuses to step down as Boko Haram’s leader.

The Barnawi wing is “much better organized than the Shekau faction,” which typically stages suicide bombings in mosques and markets, Malte Liewerscheidt, senior Africa analyst at Verisk Maplecroft consultancy group, told Reuters.

He added, “The Shekau faction does not seem to have a clear ideology or any strategy.”

Moreover, Liewerscheidt noted that Shekau does not have the trust of the locals, making it easier for the rival group to recruit and grow stronger.

While the Nigerian government primarily focuses on defeating the Shekau wing of the terrorist group, ISIS’s West Africa Province has reportedly developed a capability to carry out highly-organized attacks.

“At least 37 people, including members of the team, rescuers from the military and vigilantes, died last week when security forces tried to free those [oil prospectors] being held by the Boko Haram faction led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi who is trying to thwart government efforts to explore for oil in the Lake Chad Basin,” notes Reuters.

The Nigerian government has falsely claimed on various occasions to have defeated the Shekau wing only to have the group carry out more attacks soon after.

A Reuters tally shows that the group has escalated its suicide bombing attacks in the last few weeks, killing at least 113 people since June 1.

In recent months, Boko Haram has been increasingly using children as suicide bombers, revealed the United Nations.

Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced some 2.7 million since 2009.



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