A rival jihadist group confirmed the death of Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram

More than two weeks after fierce fighting between rival jihadist factions in northeastern Nigeria, the Islamic State in West Africa (Iswap) group announced the death of Abubakar Shekau, the historic leader of Boko Haram, in an audio message. The message confirms, among other things, that Abubakar Shekau detonated his explosive belt to avoid surrendering while under siege by Iswap men in the heart of his stronghold.
“Shekau preferred humiliation in the afterlife to humiliation on earth,” the recording, which was broadcast on Iswap’s regular communication channels, states. In other words, the jihadist leader chose to commit suicide by setting off his explosive belt, rather than fall into the hands of his enemies.
They are now rejoicing in his death, and in their message they denounce the “unimaginable atrocities” committed by Abubakar Shekau. His bloodthirsty methods, particularly towards Muslim civilians, had already precipitated the split of the Boko Haram group in 2016.
Since then, Iswap has expanded his area of control from the Lake Chad region, primarily targeting the Nigerian military, while Shekau had taken over the reins of a historic Boko Haram faction from his Sambisa lair.
After his death, the Islamic State group is clearly in a dominant position. But it will still have to deal with groups still loyal to Abubakar Shekau in the region. Some of them have already launched attacks against the jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State in recent days.
After its capture of the Sambisa Forest, Iswap sent messages to people around Lake Chad, encouraging them to join its “caliphate.’’