Factional leader of Boko Haram loyal to Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) Mamman Nur has been killed by his fighters who rebelled against him, sources with ample knowledge of the group have revealed.
Nur, the brain behind the ties between Boko Haram and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi led Islamic State, was reportedly killed by his closest lieutenants on August 21. He had in 2014 led the rebellion against Abubakar Shekau, which saw the emergence of Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawy faction of the group.
The breakaway faction which moved to shores of Lake Chad region in Northern Borno was later recognised by Al-Baghdadi.
The new leader Al-Barnawy, whose real name is Habib, is the son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in 2009.
One of our sources said, “Mamman Nur, killed on August 21, was the actual leader of the Boko Haram faction after they parted ways with Shekau. He (Nur) only put Habib in the front as shadow leader because of his father (Mohammed Yusuf).
“The name Al-Barnawy is only being heard as symbolic leader; he was meant to lead so that followers would remain committed to the cause championed by his late father but he (Nur) was the major link of the faction with the Islamic State; the chief strategist around Lake Chad, including their cells in Nigeria, Niger and Chad,” he said.
Why Nur was killed
Another source said Mamman Nur was killed after long period of disagreement with his subordinates who established “relative authority and contacts” over the years.
According to him, “The commanders became disenchanted with Nur’s style of leadership; they saw him as not as rough as Shekau.
“They followed him in staging the revolt because the argument back in 2014 was that Shekau was a hardliner who killed almost everyone, both Muslims and Christians who disagreed with his brand of Islam.
“But according to some of the fighters, after establishing his base in Lake Chad, Mamman Nur too ‘deviated from the real course’ and compromised on so many occasions,” he said.
He said a major disagreement broke after the release of some 100 girls abducted in a secondary school in Dapchi, Yobe State, in March.
“The negotiation of the release of the girls did not go down well with some close associates of Nur who released the girls unconditionally, following a directive by Al-Baghdadi,” the source said.
“Nothing was paid before the girls were released and besides, Nur’s soft approach and close contact to governments and different levels angered his foot soldiers who rebelled against him and thereafter executed him,” he said.
It was learnt that Al-Barnawy had also lost firm control of the group which is now under the “guidance” of a certain commander.
“The man in charge of all the cells in the Lake Chad region is the former commander of the fighters who was directly under the control of late Nur,” he said.
A security expert, Mr Salihu Bakari, said yesterday that the upsurge in Boko Haram attacks in Northern Borno might not be unconnected with the change of leadership.
“The truth is Nur had lost control long before he was killed; the factional group was taken over by hardliners who share a lot in common with the Shekau faction who’s landmarks include kidnapping, assault, abductions for ransom and other atrocities,” he said.
He said the new group had recently attacked many army facilities in northern Borno and also captured individuals for ransom.
“They want ransom to continue financing their activities; I think their demands for high ransom is what is delaying the release of many abductees, including the female health workers captured in Rann in Kala-Balge Local Government Area of Borno State,” he said.
Nigerian military has yet to confirm the killing of Nur.
However, on January 6 this year, the military said the wife of Nur was killed when troops attacked the group’s location in the Lake Chad region.