Is Boko Haram Leader Missing in Action?

Abubakr Shekau
Abubakr Shekau

Abubakr Shekau has been ‘killed’ many times, and has come back quickly. But since he pledged allegiance to ISIS, nobody’s heard from him.

Where is the leader of Boko Haram? The group that has terrorized a swathe of northern Nigeria, with its violence spreading into Cameroon and beyond, released a new video this week, but its leader, Abubakar Shekau, wasn’t in it.

Most of the world first caught sight of Shekau more than a year ago after the kidnapping of scores of young women from a school in Chibok, when he flaunted his defiance of the Nigerian government and common humanity. The #bringbackourgirls movement became an international phenomenon, and made Shekau a globally recognized villain.

But Shekau was last heard from in March, when he released an audio message pledging allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) group.

In the new video, an unidentified young man speaks in the local Hausa language, with subtitles in Arabic and English, and in the name of the Islamic State in West Africa, calling on supporters to be patient.

“We are still present everywhere we had been before,” he said.

The eight-minute clip showed the militants attacking a security checkpoint, seizing weapons, and slitting the throat of a man dressed in a police uniform.

The gruesome video appears to be a genuine, and its slick production values suggest that it was put together with the help of ISIS-allied propaganda units.

This is the second successive video released by Boko Haram in which Shekau has failed to appear. The previous one, released in June, neither featured nor mentioned Shekau, prompting questions about whether he may have been killed or injured by military forces. In Nigeria’s northeast region, where the insurgents operate, there is widespread belief that he has fled the country, shaving off his Islamist beard to help him travel incognito.

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SOURCE: Philip Obaji Jr.
The Daily Beast

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