A person purporting to be the leader of the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) terror group alleged in an audio recording heard by Reuters on Sunday that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian terror group Boko Haram, was dead.
Boko Haram itself rebranded as ISWAP after pledging allegiance to dead ISIS “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2015. For years, however, rumors persisted that Shekau himself was not onboard with the merger and that his loyalists were often violently at odds with those supported by the Islamic State parent terrorist organization.
A man claiming to be ISWAP leader Abu Musab al-Barnaw detailed in the audio clip how ISWAP fighters allegedly tracked Shekau down to an undisclosed location “on the orders of the Islamic State leadership, and battled Boko Haram insurgents until Shekau fled,” according to Reuters.
ISWAP allegedly pursued Shekau as he attempted to escape and eventually captured him. The jihadist group “offered him the chance to repent and join them,” a voice claiming to be al-Barnaw said in the audio recording.
“Shekau preferred to be humiliated in the afterlife than getting humiliated on earth, and he killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive,” the supposed voice of Al-Barnaw alleged.
“Abubakar Shekau, God has judged him by sending him to heaven,” he added.
Unverified reports of Shekau’s death at the hands of Islamic State terrorists began circulating within Nigeria on May 20. Nigeria’s government responded to the rumors by stating that it was “investigating” reports of his death.
“Unlike past reports of Shekau’s death, Islamic State terrorists, not the Nigerian military, are the alleged parties responsible for his death, and the military has neither confirmed his death nor claimed any involvement in the event that allegedly killed him,” Breitbart News noted on May 24.
Prior to the latest reports of Shekau’s death, Nigeria’s military had falsely reported the Boko Haram leader dead on at least three previous occasions.
Humangle news site was among the first local Nigerian news outlets to claim to obtain a copy of the unverified audio recording quoted by Reuters on June 6. While Humangle cited the audio file on June 5 to provide further details of Shekau’s alleged death, the news site first reported on the terrorist’s alleged demise on May 20. The Nigerian news site cited “multiple sources” to provide an account of Shekau’s death on May 20 that directly mirrored that shared by Reuters on June 6.
“Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is dead,” HumAngle reported at the time, adding that he died on the evening of May 19 “following the invasion of the terror group [Boko Haram]’s stronghold in the Sambisa forest area [of northeastern Nigeria] by a column of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters.”
“ISWAP, which had broken away from the Shekau-led Boko Haram faction in 2016 after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), raided the group’s hideout using multiple gun trucks,” according to the news site.
“Shekau’s enclave was tracked down by ISWAP using its forces based in the Timbuktu Triangle [of the Sambisa Forest]. His fighters were killed in the process, followed by a long gunfire exchange between the invading group and Shekau’s bodyguards,” Humangle detailed.
After ISWAP defeated Shekau’s bodyguards, “Shekau surrendered and engaged in an hours-long meeting with the ISWAP fighters. During the parley, he was asked to voluntarily relinquish power and order his fighters in other areas to declare bai’a (allegiance) to ISWAP’s authority,” according to Humangle.
“Shekau who secretly had a suicide vest on eventually blew himself up alongside everyone present during the negotiations,” the news site reported.
ISWAP and Boko Haram are allegedly rival terror groups today after previously being linked but splitting in about 2016. ISWAP reportedly viewed Shekau as having exacerbated the schism between the two groups by encouraging Boko Haram to target almost any people in Nigeria and neighboring states for attacks, including Muslim “believers.”