So-called Islamic State, IS, terrorist group has announced Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new leader of its West African affiliate, Boko Haram, while maintaining that its hold on West Africa is insurmountable.
Abu Musab al-Barnawi, who was previously spokesman for Boko Haram, is featured in the latest issue of an IS magazine which however did not explain what happened to the group’s former leader, Abubakar Shekau, who was last heard from in an audio message last August, saying he was alive and had not been replaced.
This was corroborated by an IS video released in April.
In the interview in IS’s weekly Arabic magazine al-Naba, al-Barnawi said his group “remains a force to be reckoned with” and that it had been drawing new recruits.
He described the group’s battle against West African states as a war fought by Muslims against “apostates” and “crusaders.”
Boko Haram, which has lost most of the territory it controlled 18 months ago, is fighting to overthrow Nigeria’s government and there has been a concerted effort in recent months to counter Nigeria military efforts at wiping the terrorists out in their campaign that has left 20,000 people dead, mainly in Nigeria’s north-east.
Little is known about Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi, who appeared in a Boko Haram video in January 2015 as the group’s spokesman.
In sharp contrast, he unlike the former leader, wore a turban and his face was blurred out and it was filmed as a sit-down studio interview, and his delivery in the Hausa language was considered and softly spoken.
While Shekau was often filmed in the open, surrounded by fighters, loudly proclaiming his threats, victories and giving rambling ideological lectures, Barnawi on the other hand pulled no punches, warning that towns which resisted Boko Haram in its mission to create an Islamic state would be flattened, maintaining their belief of being against democracy and foreign education
In his most recent magazine interview, he again objected to the name Boko Haram, by which locals call the group, as it means ‘Western education is forbidden’ in Hausa and upheld that IS was still strong in the region and promised to continue fighting West African governments.

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