West Africa has a wide range of terrorists groups ranging from Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, Mali’s Tuareg rebels to Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region. Some of these groups have renowned leaders but the most outstanding has been the Boko Haram faction leader Abubakar Shekau. He has appeared in many warning videos many at times to debunk the fact that he is dead.
The most recent on him was a deadline given by the Army chief that troops engaged in the Boko Haram war should deliver Shekau dead or alive in 40 days.
He has more often appeared to be the greatest threat. Many times it is baffling that he appears in videos unmasked among his masked fighters to give out his message.
Amid upheavals last year he even appeared once to announce his end.
“For me, the end has come. May Allah protect us from evil? I thank my creator.” He assured.
Shekau who became leader of Boko Haram after the death of its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, in 2002 has no exact date of birth. It is only estimated that he was born between 1965 and 1975.
As a designated terrorist by the United States in 2012, a $7m bounty was placed on him a year later. One of his most watched was in 2014 when he appeared to confirm the abduction of Chibok girls.
Who is the man Abubakar Shekau? Here are some facts about him first published on africanews.com
- His date of birth is unknown; reports indicate that Shekau was born in Yobe State (northeast Nigeria) between 1965 and 1975.
- Shekau is a man of many lives. His death and fatal injuries to him have been reported on multiple occasions. His first death was in 2009 but the most recent was in May this year when the Army reported that Shekau had been fatally wounded following air strikes. He has since appeared in more than three videos.
- He speaks Fulani, Kanuri – a local language used in the north of Nigeria, the widely spoken Hausa, reads Arabic and sparsely uses English in his addresses.
- Shekau was leader when Boko Haram in March 2015 pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS). The group announced a new leader in Abu Musa Al Barnawi son of the founder but Shekau rejected the leadership change and has insisted that he remains in charge.
- The verbal targets of his videos are the Nigerian army especially the Army Chief, Lt. Gen. Yusuf Tukur Buratai, the political establishment and Nigerians in general. The Shekau-led factions in one such videos releases said they will capture President Muhammadu Buhari physically as part of their fight against ‘infidels.’
- Shekau is usually flanked by masked fighters whiles delivering his address. The traditional black ISIS flag is either mounted somewhere of it forms the backdrop of his videos when he is seated.
- The Army claim to have captured Shekau’s flag and Quran during a raid of the terrorist’s hub of Camp Zero in the Sambisa forest. The large mountainous forest area (bordering parts of Nigeria and Cameroon) is the known location of the Boko Haram group.