One of Nigeria’s leading Salafist clerics, Sheikh Mohamed Awwal Adam Albani, was gunned down by the radical jihadist Boko Haram group on Saturday night near his home in the northern part of the African country.
The highly respected 54-year-old preacher was murdered alongside his wife and son at around 10 PM on Saturday night, sources say.
Albani, who followed and preached a conservative interpretation of the Koran, was often critical of Boko Haram and its violent tactics. The terrorist group in Nigeria, whose namely literally means “Western education is sinful,” has been previously linked to Al Qaeda and is thought responsible for up to 4,000 deaths in the country since 2009.
Writing about his death, the Sahara Reporters website states that Albani “…was on his way to his home in Tudun Jukun area when the men opened fire… and instantly killed his wife and son, the scholar was dragged out of the car and shot by the gunmen before they escaped.”
One of Albani’s relatives, Mallam Muhammad Kabir, said, “They… pulled him out of the car and shot him several times because we found his body on the ground riddled with bullets and soaked in blood. They escaped after carrying out the act.”
In October of 2012, Albani was reported as claiming he had no fear for his life at the hands of Boko Haram. He said at the time, “We are not in any way afraid of any intimidation, we are only afraid of God. We have no any sinister plans against anyone in our minds and schedules; all we are doing is serving God and nothing more than that.”
Boko Haram has ruthlessly and relentlessly targeted anyone who opposes its attempts to carve out an Islamic state in Nigera. The group has hit government property, schools, churches, and even mosques.
Boko Haram is designated a terrorist organization by the United States and is considered the biggest security threat in Africa’s top oil exporter and second-largest economy. More than a hundred people were killed last week in two attacks in northeast states under a state of emergency, including a siege at a packed church service.
Reuters contributed to this report.