ISWAP leader Al-Barnawi is dead — Defence chief

Chief of defence staff Leo Irabor

Chief of defence staff General Lucky Irabor said on Thursday that the leader of the Islamic State West Africa Province jihadist group Abu Musab al-Barnawi is dead.

Al-Barnawi and over 80 jihadists were declared wanted by the Nigerian Army last November.

“I can authoritatively confirm to you that Al-Barnawi is dead. As simple as that. He is dead and remains dead,” Irabor said without giving details.

Since splitting with Boko Haram in 2016, ISWAP has shown its resilience and carried out large-scale ambushes on the military in recent weeks.

Boko Haram commander Abubakar Shekau was killed earlier this year during infighting between the factions.

A researcher with the Institute for Security Studies Malik Samuel told AFP that if the ISWAP leader is really dead it would not affect the group much because of its structure.

“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,” he said.

Al-Barnawi is the son of the founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in police custody in 2009 in Maiduguri.