DESPERATE TO RECLAIM LOST TERRITORIES, BOKO HARAM/ISWAP FACTION APPOINTS NEW LEADER
The notorious Shura Council members of Boko Haram splinter faction and self-proclaimed Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have appointed a new Amir – Abu Dawud - nom de guerre.
Impeccable sources confirmed that the little known Abu Dawud replaced Amir Abba-Gana AKA Ba Lawan. The change of ISWAP leadership was triggered by a violent internal coup masterminded by discontented ISWAP unit commanders in a location given as Tumbum Kayowa – a remote camp in the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin considered as the de-facto headquarters of ISWAP.
The Mid-January 2021 ISWAP leadership change from Ba Lawan to Abu Dawud has been linked directly to a previously reported December 2020 bloodbath and mutiny in the same ISWAP Kayowa camp over the controversial process and selection criteria used in the then appointment of one Aliyu Chakkar as the new “governor of the Lake Chad Basin “under Ba Lawan’s leadership. Recall that Aliyu Chakkar replaced the infamous Goni Maina, the ‘governor’ eliminated by a joint Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force intelligence-led bombardment at Sabon Tumbu.
Prior to the appointment of Abu Dawud, sources revealed that one Amir Goni Mustapha was temporarily appointed as Acting ISWAP Leader doubling as the Chief Imam of ISWAP for a short period while awaiting the final decision of the Shura council members.
Why was Amir Abba -Gana replaced?
Sources say the Shura Council blamed Abba Gana for losing leadership command, control, respect, and confidence of most of his loyalist top commanders and had become increasingly unpopular. He was found guilty of instigating the increasing and growing insurrection among militants' fighters, regular bloodshed, and bringing dishonour within ISWAP.
The Impact of Military Interventions:
Other operational reasons cited by the Shura Council included the bad state of ISWAP jihadist leadership structure leading to an increase in desertions, failings in the recruitment of new fighters, inability to hold territories, as well as massive loss of territories to offensives by the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air-Force, the Chadian Army, the Nigerienne forces and the regional Multi-national Joint Task Force (MNJTF) troops under his watch.
The increasing merciless and coordinated intelligence-led land and air raids under joint "Operation TURA TAKAIBANGO, a subsidiary of Operation LAFIYA DOLE in the North East, has recorded massive success in eliminating and reducing the capacity of several Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorists in the Sambisa Forest; the Mandara Mountains and fringes of the Lake Chad region. These operations have forced dozens of Boko Haram ISWAP fighters and their families to flee across the porous water-ways of the Lake Chad basin region.
Who Is ISWAP New Leader:
Little is known of the new ISWAP leader. But sources say Abu Dawud, is in his 40s, a ruthless ISWAP Commander from Northern Borno - Mobbar Local Government Area or Abadam Local Government Area. Abu Dawud was chosen to lead one of ISIS's core most active jihadist groups in the world after allegedly demonstrating ISWAP style combat capacity experience, including skills in planning, intelligence, and militant operations.
In March 2020, Dawud is reported to have led the unprecedented attack on a military formation in Boma village in the Chadian peninsula of the Lake Chad Basin, killing at least 92 Chadian soldiers and leaving 47 injured. This attack led to Chad President Idriss Derby launching one of the most effective to date Counteroffensive against Boko Haram units on the shores of Lake Chad Basin – ‘Operation Boma Wrath’ announcing that it killed more than 1000 jihadist. Abu Dawud is also known to have spearheaded another hard target attack at the Niger Republic military reconnaissance outpost in Chetima Wangou, Diffa Region, resulting in eight (8) deaths.
Impact of ISWAP leadership Changes:
There is yet no information on the fate of Ba Lawan but it is likely that his own loyalist commanders will stand by him posing a serious intra-ISWAP threat to the new ISWAP leader. It is expected that Abu Dawud, would have immediately began planning to consolidate command and control leadership and lead operations by directing both soft civilian and hard military target attacks in the region.
Early reports indicate the new ISWAP leader has declared the start of a massive recruitment drive targeting young male adults in the Lake Chad region to replace its lost fighters. The backup plan is to kidnap unwilling targets into recruitment and indoctrination drives of the insurgents.
The emergence of a new leader of ISWAP coincides with the accepted resignation of the longest-serving Service Chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari (Commander In Chief – CIC ) and the appointment of new Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff (CDs) Maj. Gen Leo Irabor; Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Maj. Gen I Attahiru; Chief of Air Staff (COIS)Air Vice Marshal I.O Amao; and Chief of Naval Staff (CONS) Rear Admiral AZ Gambo. The new and battlefield experienced service chiefs will be expected to continue a fierce and merciless coordinated intelligence-led land, water, and air raids under joint "Operation TURA TAKAIBANGO, a subsidiary of Operation LAFIYA DOLE in the North East, Sambisa Forest; the Mandara Mountains and fringes of the Lake Chad region.
Top priorities for new Service Chiefs: Inter-agency planning and preparation for smooth leadership command and control; boost frontline troops morale; promote inter and intra sister agency operational collaboration; enhancement of the navy patrol in the fringes of the Lake Chad waters and Baga with the help of the already tested Falcon Eye Technology used in the South-South Maritime operations; winning the hearts and minds of the local population; strategic communications with local and international media platforms to counter jihadist propaganda; continue to promote human rights behaviour of frontline troops; regional collaboration with Cameroon, Niger Republic, and Chad by strengthening the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) operations.
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About The Author
David Otto is an International Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Expert and the leading Director of Counter Terrorism at the Geneva Centre for Africa Security and Strategic Studies (GCASSS). He is also the Director for Counter Terrorism Programme Design for the UK based - Stepped In Step Out Ltd - He is a Certified Anti -Terrorism Specialist (CAS), a Certified Master Anti-Terrorism Specialist (CMAS) and a program trainer with the Anti-Terrorism Accreditation Board (ATAB).
Emails: David.firstname.lastname@example.org; David.Otto@steppedin-stepout.com