Boko Haram:The Islamic State (Isis) terror group has appointed a new leader for its branch in West Africa

ISIL has announced a new leader for the insurgent group, Boko Haram. ISIL referred to Abu Musab al-Barnawi--who was previously spokesman for Boko Haram-- as the new leader, replacing Abubakar Shekau. Al-Barnawi was featured in the latest issue of an ISIL magazine.

Boko Haram, which has lost most of the territory it controlled 18 months ago, is fighting to overthrow Nigeria's government.

Its seven-year insurgency has left 20,000 people dead, mainly in the country's north-east.


In the interview in IS's weekly Arabic magazine al-Naba, Mr Barnawi said his group "remained a force to be reckoned with" and said it had been drawing new recruits.

He described the group's battle against West African states as a war fought by Muslims against "apostates" and "crusaders".

Al-Barnawi was Boko Haram's spokesperson until he and other members defected to form the Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Lands (Ansaru) group in 2013. The splinter operates in north-eastern Nigeria and, unlike Boko Haram, does not attack Muslim civilians and does not force women and children to carry out suicide bombing missions.

"Al-Barnawi has been the spokesman of Ansaru after the 2012-2013 split. He personally distanced himself from the killing of Muslim civilians by Boko Haram in 2012," David Otto, CEO of global security provider TGS Intelligence Consultants, told IBTimes UK. "The split was seen as a leadership disagreement on soft targets that killed Muslims , women and children."

Although Ansaru is a splinter of Boko Haram, Otto said that the two groups reintegrated in the Nigerian-Cameroon border region, where they exchange resources and militants "towards a common goal."


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