Boko Haram-ISIS deal: Shekau could be replaced

Boko Haram, as they are known, seem to have had a long disagreement within the Jihadi movements in Africa about Abubakar Shekau’s depth of knowledge. Many of the Jihadis, especially students of late Mohammed Yusuf, Shekau’s precursor, were reported to have opted out of the movement on account of his hastiness. Some of these erstwhile members of the sect are reported to be currently fighting alongside with the Islamic State (IS) in Libya, or in other turfs — in their new obsession of dying as martyrs instead of co-existing in a multicultural society.

Boko Haram’s widely reported allegiance (or Bay’ah) to the Islamic State is said to be the result of a long drawn deliberation within and outside the group on its ideology. “The sect has expressed support to IS in the past but not Bay’ah in this formal sense, as Islam prescribed,” says a source with links to the insurgents in Nigeria. According to this insurgent, it is not a question of IS accepting their overtures or not “as long as Muslims pledged allegiance to a leader, he must accept it. In fact, it was long overdue.” What this also means is Abubakar Bagdadi will henceforth take decision for the insurgents. “Shekau’s self-governance has ended on Saturday, the 7th of March 2015,” said the insurgent.

Sources knowledgeable with the activities of the ruthless insurgents in Nigeria hinted that what we are seeing is a methodological transformation of Boko Haram into a well-organised terror and propaganda machine that may not only appeal to the deprived in society but even the well-off and people from different nationalities. Baghdadi may choose to even change the Imam in Nigeria if he so wishes or send permanent emissaries or teachers to guide what is now the local Boko Haram Shura, said multiple sources.

Insiders insist that “the emissaries by Bagdadi are already here with us, they are making a lot of changes that I cannot share but we have started seeing the impact of our Bay’ah”. But just what is Bay’ah and the implications to the four countries fighting Boko Haram? Bay’ah, according to some Sunni Islamic scholars, can only be offered to the leader of the Muslims. Once allegiance is offered, as in the case of Boko Haram to IS, it is accepted because the leader that is being offered Bay’ah assumes total and absolute authority over his subjects, except these subjects were to discover that the actions of the leader contradicted their kind of beliefs.


Many commentators have maintained that Boko Haram is on its knees, therefore, it is reaching out to IS to reinforce its bonds with other groups and individuals in the region, and save itself from drowning. Yes, there have been intensified military attacks against Boko Haram by the Nigerian Army and the multinational forces but to assume that the international borders in north-east Nigeria that overlooks three countries — Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic — areno longer leaky is far-fetched. Even our weak institutions to guard against leakages are a cause of concern. Investigations revealed that there may still be several unmanned pathways from Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria to the Northern Mandara mountains, the new fortress of Boko Haram resistance.

A trusted inside assessment revealed that there is a difference between taking back Boko Haram territories and defeating the group’s terror network with its roots in many parts of the region. While one aspect of the problem can be defeated on the battle field, the other aspect requires deep, strategic and consistent institutional framework to be able to contain.

Another cause of apprehension is: both Chad and Niger that carried out a joint offensive against Boko Haram on Sunday share direct borderlines with Libya — IS most powerful arm outside of Iraq and Syria. However, many have dismissed the alliance since Boko Haram and IS are both confronted with large-scale military attacks. But IS is not only in Iraq, Syria or Libya, it’s an ideology that may be found in unexpected places.


There are also growing concern of Boko Haram capabilities, despite the offensive against it. On Saturday, its fighters moved into Sueram village in Cameroon, with tanks and pickups vans. Sueram, according to Chief Bisong Etahoben, a respected journalist in Cameroon, is a mere 17 kilometers from Fotokol, the location of Boko Haram’s most devastating attack on Cameroon in February.

Analyst argues that with deep seated distrust amongst the multinational forces and the absence of a command structure to streamline their activities, it becomes a major challenge to effectively police the expansive border territories. Moreover, we are referring to borderlines that host same ethnic groups, living across two imperceptible boundaries. If people can escape sophisticated airport security checks from the US, Europe and Asia en route Syria and Iraq from Turkey, how difficult will it be for people from Mali, North Africa and Europe to troop to poorly manned borders, in a poverty stricken region, being policed by one of the most ill-equipped and corrupt officials from the four hard-hit countries in the region?

Clearly, there has been progress in taking back Boko Haram territories by the militaries of Chad, Cameroun, Niger and more especially Nigeria but there has not been any headway in finding nearly a 1000 known prisoners, including over 200 girls, abducted about a year ago. For now, many in West Africa have every cause to be anxious by the new Boko Haram and IS alliance. In the absence of any intelligence breakthrough that may reveal the slightest clue on the following: who are Boko Haram’s current leaders? How many are they? What are their names? Where are they located? How are decisions taken within the group? What is their actual source of funding? How many cells do they operate outside the main war combatants? People in the region can be certain of more bloody surprises ahead.

If our intelligence community for years were repeatedly confused about whether or not Shekau was alive, his whereabouts, and were misled into believing bogus ceasefires and false alarms over the release of abducted girls, how can people trust the same security community with their borders? Boko Haram claims it is retreating for weeks to the Northern Mandara area at a time we are hearing victory songs by our military in areas far away from Boko Haram’s main command and control theatre.


Salkida, a conflict analyst, was the only journalist who had contact with Boko Haram leaders. He can be reached on Twitter: @contactSalkida

  1. Very helpful investigative analysis. But never mind, Boko Haram will be defeated…evil will never triumph over good. Boko Haram or IS is evil and death is their ultimate portion.

  2. Only God will save His people from these deadly sects. It’s battle of light and darkness. My major concern is Islam and these terrorist groups. Does it mean that muslims all over the world are supporting them to islamize world? Why is it that terrorist only associated with Islam and no other religion in the world? If ISLAM means PEACE, why must innocent souls or bloodshed to propagate the religion?

    1. Islam actually means peace, but the actions of some misguided people claiming to be muslims does not represent the opinion of the global muslim population which is about 1.6bn.

      Answers to your questions,

      1.Majority of muslims don’t support the actions of groups like ISIS and Boko Haram.

      2. Terrorism is only being linked to Islam because the media wants us to believe muslims are terrorists.Why aren’t members of Ku Klux Klan considered terrorists after they killed and maimed black people in America for decades?. Why isn’t Anders Breivik considered a terrorist after he killed 71 people in Norway in 2011. Think about it.

      3.If you read about the history of Islam, you’ll see that little or no violence was used to propagate it. In Islam, if a person kills an innocent person its considered as if he has killed the whole of humanity, including you and I. As I said earlier, a few misguided elements do not give a true representation of global muslims.

      But, if you consider all muslims as terrorists, then imagine 1.6bn terrorists all willing to die via suicide bombings, goodluck sleeping at night.

      1. Who is this Muslim liar trying to pull wool over our eyes? Do you really think we do not know the truth about Islam, it’s violent and blood soaked history as practiced by their prophet Mohammed? Only the naive and uninformed will fall for your lies. Thank God many of us have taken time to read the Koran, the Hadiths and the Sunnah and can no longer be deceived.
        Let the truth be told, the Koran expressly commands all Muslims to consider non- Muslims as enemies. 64% of the Koran is dedicated to action of of Muslims towards non-muslims.To understand the totality of Islam we must consult these texts which give us the sayings of Mohammed, his action, his battles against non-muslims and his command to rid the Arab world of Christians and Jews and to ‘fight them wherever you see them'(see Koran 9:111; Hadith 4369 Sahir Muslim vol 3; Koran 9:5) The Muslim World is called ‘dar al Islam’ while the world (or territories occupied by non-believers or kafirs) is called ‘dar al harb’. a great amount of energy, bordering on obsession is dedicated to the kafir or unbeliever. The Koran commands that all non-muslim lands are to be conquered and brought under sharia law and non-muslims must submit to Islam or pay jizyah (the poll tax for non-muslims) – see Koran 9:29. The hadith and sunnah are full of examples of Mohammed personally giving these commands.
        Again, the Koran, when arranged according to chronology will reveal that there are texts written about Mohammed’s life in Mecca and about his life in Medina. What is the difference? In Mecca, where Mohammed started his preaching, the corresponding Islamic texts depict a religous Mohammed, intent on establishing a new faith, hence you will find relatively peaceful and conciliatory verses (in any case mostly copied from the Bible and ancient texts). But in later in Medina, where Mohammed grew powerful and launched an attack to take Mecca, the corresponding islamic texts depict a political and power hungry megalomaniac called Mohammed who destroyed the Chistian and Jewish communities of Banu Nadir, Banu Qurayza, and many others. Mohammed personally led over 28 battles. Caliph Omar and Abu Bakr, after a bloody season of infighting amongst Mohammed’s followers, launched a bloody campaign that erased almost all known centres of advanced civilization in Egypt, Turkey, Syria and India and the Byzantine Kingdoms. These are undeniable, historical and logical FACTS. In case you are wondering why Muslims are quick to lie about the true nature of Islam, Islam commands Muslims to do everything to decieve non-muslims (called the principle of Taquiyya in Islam)in order to advance the cause of islam. In other words, lying to the non-muslim is an Islamic principle.
        We need to understand that many Muslims are satisfied with religous Islam. However, others desire to practice both the religous and the political aspects. These ones are the true muslims, who are desirous of matrydom and destruction of Dar-al-Harb. True muslims know that Islam can only succeed through politics and violence and not through religion as the religous aspect is very weak and mostly copied and plagiarized from the Bible and other texts. 64% of the Islamic Sirah is dedicated to Jihad and the promise of houris or virgins for muslims who die in battle. Hating the Jew and the Christian and sexual gratification in Al-Jannah is the central message of Islam. This explains the rise in Islamic Jihadism

      2. you need to differentiate issues my brother. truth Islam preaches peace but some Muslims would rather war because of other belief and gains they desire.
        The press are not the one that shout God Is Great when they want to blow up themselves. Klu Klux Klan is not terrorist because they do not carry out indiscriminate killing and maiming of people. Yet the group was banished and condemned. Today if you show any sign of being part of or belief in the Group Klu KLux Klan, you will be prosecuted. You will not even be allowed to live in the midst of people. Anders Breivik was treated as a terrorist and was caged as one. NAZEIST are also a group that today dare not raise their head in public. So let all Muslim come up with one voice with the world fish out reject and condemn all known Islamic political fundamentalists in the mosque and community around them, then will they be able to sleep well. Go back to History Christian Retaliation on Islamic Jihad was worse than all the Jihad put together. We need a world of peace so let peace reign.

  3. Jonathan should be held responsible for allowing Boko Haram to fester and look invincible until recently. If he had been courageous enough to deal decisively with the terrorists who were just a handful then, they will not exist today not talk of aligning with ISIS with all its chilling implications.

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