A Boko Haram faction has long been inspired by the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. Now that IS leader Baghdadi is dead, will this faction still remain as potent and violent?
The fugitive leader of the Islamic State (IS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is dead.
al-Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest in north-west Syria after fleeing into a tunnel, chased by US military dogs, according to United States President Donald Trump.
Trump said al-Baghdadi was “whimpering and crying and screaming”, while being chased by the military dogs.
Baghdadi took his own life and those of three of his children by igniting his suicide vest. Afterwards, the tunnel he had fled into, collapsed.
Trump says no US personnel were killed but one of the dogs was left seriously injured in the explosion.
“The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him…he was a sick and depraved man. He died like a dog, he died like a coward,” Trump announced after the operation.
Baghdadi was a ruthless, skilled, strategic, organised and ruthless battlefield tactician.
The Nigeria based Boko Haram faction, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), has long pledged allegiance to the Syria based IS.
Will Baghdadi’s death weaken ISWAP in any way, shape or form?
Pulse explains in the following paragraphs…
Who is ISWAP’s leader and how do they operate?
ISWAP is led by 25-year-old Abu Musab al-Barnawi–a bare knuckled fighter who parted ways with the depraved Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau in 2016, over operational direction.
ISWAP prefers attacking military bases and taking on armed soldiers on the battlefield, while Shekau’s Boko Haram prefers abducting school kids and expatriates, while sending child suicide bombers to detonate explosives in markets and communities.
ISWAP’s modus operandi has mirrored that of IS in recent times, however.
Like IS, ISWAP prefers confronting armies. These days, like IS, ISWAP stages hit-and-run operations and suicide attacks–much like Shekau’s Boko Haram.
Inspired by IS ideology, ISWAP has resorted to guerrilla tactics mounted by sleeper cells.
As IS grew in notoriety and brutality, so did the Nigeria based ISWAP.
So, now what?
Even though ISWAP has been inspired by IS and IS has always lauded ISWAP for its dastardly operations in Nigeria, it remains unclear if IS provides any kind of support in equipment and cash to ISWAP.
The extent of this support also remains unclear.
According to Reuters, the relationship between ISWAP and IS “is mainly in name rather than direct funding and logistical support.”
In summary, al-Baghdadi’s death is not likely to weaken ISWAP in Nigeria in any way, shape or form because there are no known direct links between both terrorist groups.
A brief history of al-Baghdadi
Baghdadi was born near Samarra, north of Baghdad, in 1971.
He served as a cleric in a mosque in Baghdad around the time of the US-led invasion in 2003, writes the BBC.
“Some believe he was already a jihadist during the rule of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Others suggest he was radicalised during the time he was held at Camp Bucca, a US facility in southern Iraq where many al-Qaeda commanders were detained,” the BBC adds.
Baghdadi rose to prominence in 2014, when he announced the creation of a “caliphate” in areas of Iraq and Syria.
On Baghdadi’s watch, IS carried out multiple atrocities that resulted in thousands of deaths.