Nigeria military confirms death of Daesh-affiliated group leader
The leader of a terrorist group in Nigeria that is affiliated with Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is dead, the West African nation’s top military commander said on Thursday.
The terror group, known as ISWAP, has not confirmed the death of Abu Musab al-Barnawi, and Nigeria's army has claimed before to have killed terrorist group commanders only for them to reappear.
"I can authoritatively confirm to you that al-Barnawi is dead. As simple as that. He is dead and remains dead," Chief of Defence Staff General Lucky Irabor told reporters.
He did not give details on how or when al-Barnawi had died.
Under al-Barnawi, ISWAP became the dominant terror group in Nigeria's conflict, striking frequently at troops in an insurgency that has killed more than 40,000 since it begun in 2009.
Al-Barnawi's loss would be blow to ISWAP's structure just as it was consolidating since the death of rival Boko Haram commander Abubakar Shekau earlier this year during infighting between the factions.
But since splitting with Boko Haram in 2016, the group carried out large-scale ambushes on the military just in the last several weeks.
"Should al-Barnawi be dead, his death may not have too much impact on ISWAP because of how structured the group is," said Malik Samuel, a researcher with the Institute for Security Studies.
"Since the 2016 split, ISWAP has had about five leadership changes but the group has maintained its consistency in launching deadly and successful attacks against security forces."
The presence of terrorist groups in Africa have been an excuse for Western powers to re-enter these countries. This was seen in the French military intervention in Mali and the US military campaign in Somalia.
This has raised doubts about the connection of Western countries with terrorist groups.
After Iran helped defeat terror groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria, many experts believe the West decided to use Africa as a breeding ground for terrorism and spread violence.
Unrest, poverty and political instability have also helped the spread of Daesh in some African nations.