The new jihadist coalition formed between the the so-called Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP ) and old members of Boko Haram JAS faction has a new leader. 

Sources confirmed that Amir Abbah Gana aka Ba-Lawan was reappointed by ISIS core to lead the coalition that emerged from rival JAS fighters who recently pledged allegiance to ISIS Core under the leadership of Abu Ibrahim Al-Qurashi.

New commanders selected from both factions were also appointed days after the Nigerian army launched successful operations against the jihadist sect in Northern Nigeria. 

The new appointments were spearheaded by the Interim Council of the ISWAP-Boko Haram terrorists’ group, headed by one Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi. Sources say the loss of key commanders from military air strikes precipitated the jihadist group to quickly réorganise it’s leadership structure which has been under suspension for months.

ISWAP restructuring is reported to be in line with a recent directive from ISIS Headquarters in Iraq. 


The interim Council held an emergency meeting which was attended by all potential Wali’s (Leaders), Qa’ids (Chiefs), Commanders and all other recognised structures of both ISWAP and Boko Haram. It was in that meeting that Amir Abbah Gana aka Ba-Lawan was reappointed as the new Leader of ISWAP, six months after his removal by the ISWAP Shura Council for losing the confidence of most of his loyalists and top commanders. 

With the suicide of Abubakar Shekau and the realignment of various factions, the Al-Barnawi-led Committee reinstated Ba-Lawan to lead what they termed as ISIS Islamic Caliphate of Africa (Wilaya of Africa), covering parts of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon. 

Sources have also revealed that one Malam Bako was appointed Deputy (Na’ib) to Command the ISIS Caliphate Command of Nigeria, (Wilaya of Nigeria), recently established at Timbuktu Triangle in Southern Borno. Other key JAS/ ISWAP appointments include Abba-Kaka as Governor of Tumbumma, Commanding Marte, Abadam, Kukawa, Magumeri and other parts of the Lake Chad; and Abubakar Dan-Buduma as the Operation Commander, Timbuktu Triangle. Baba Isa who was in charge of Taxation and Revenue on Fishing activities was posted to Kangar in Abadam to relieve Abu Abdallah. Ibn Umar is now Chief Prosecutor, Abu Umama becomes Amir of Tudun Wulgo, while Muhammed Maina is the Commander of Sabon Tumbu, among others. 

Sources revealed that the Interim Council also introduced Mobile Courts and some policies to harmonise all insurgents activities and groups under the leadership of ISIS core , as well as to establish two Wilaya’s (Caliphates) at Lake Chad and Sambisa forest to sustain its war against countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has also lifted the ban imposed on fishing and farming activities in the Lake Chad area, three years after chasing people out of Marte, Abadam, Kukawa and Guzamala, over alleged spying for Nigerian troops. It nevertheless, imposed new taxes and levies in the areas controlled by ISWAP-Boko Haram, to regulate trades and agricultural activities. Henceforth, members of the terrorist sect will be collecting N5,000 monthly from traders and farmers, while the fishermen will be expected to pay N2,000 per bag of fish among other levies. Several fishermen, farmers and merchants have returned to the Lake-Chad area to engage in socio-economic activities, under the arrangement of the new ISWAP-Boko Haram Leadership, according to impeccable sources. 

The new appointments are unlikely to change the current strategy of the Nigerian Army but demonstrates the need to continue its operations against the new coalition. 

COIN intelligence led operations should continue to target ISWAP & JAS jihadist at various terrorists’ hiding camps in Sabon Tumbu, Jibularam, Kwalaram, Timbuktu Triangle and Parisu and other targets in the Lake Chad. Ground troops were reported to have engaged the jihadist after air bombardments were reported at Lamboa forest, Bula Yobe, Jabullam, Yauma Wango, Mainok and Dikwa axes where ISWAP fighters and commanders were eliminated including Umar Tela, Modu Sulum and One-Eye ISWAP Commander, Modu Kennami among others. 

COIN is a people centric operation IF you See Something Say Something. 

David Otto

David Otto is the Director for Stepped In – Step Out UK Ltd and a Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Expert. He is a Certified Anti -Terrorism Specialist (CAS), a Certified Master Anti -Terrorism Specialist (CMAS) and a programme trainer with the Anti -Terrorism Accreditation Board (ATAB). Twitter @ottotgs Email:


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