Another Leadership coup has broken out within ISIS In Africa Camp as Amir Ba Lawan seize control of Islamic State of West Africa Province ( ISWAP). 

The previous leader, Amir Abba Abba Gana, was dismissed and detained as ISWAP leader. The Shura council accused Abba Gana of consistent weak leadership and that he has failed to demonstrate adequate command and control in the group operations. The leadership of Abba Gana witnessed the biggest casualties of ISWAP commanders in the hands of Nigerian Army under Lt.Gen Tukur Yusufu Buratai, Chadian Army under President Idriss Derby and the Multinational Joint Task Force ( MNJTF), régional troops. 

Amir Abba Lawan, who was the Deputy to Abba Gana is an Indigene of Lake Chad Basin Region. 

Power tussle between the leadership of Boko Haram/ISWAP Kanuri extraction, Buduma, Damargu and Shuwa tribes has been a major source of friction within the jihadist groups - a major reason for the bad blood that existed between the first Deputy to Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf and Mamman Nur ( a Shuwa Arab) and Abubakar Shekau ( a Kanuri). 

The first ISWAP leader and one of the surviving sons of Mohamed Yusuf - Abu Musab Albarnawi ( Habib) has benefitted from this new leadership as he is restored as a strategic/ operational adviser and one of the most powerful commanders to ISWAP alongside Ba Lawan.

His position is perhaps to maintain support and recognition from ISIS core leadership and the AZWAJ sponsors linked to Regional jihadist in Mali and Libya. Habib is said to have a special relationship with Ba Lawan. 

As a commander and someone with leadership experience, Habib is notorious for bloody operations against hard military targets - likely to have coordinated the recent Damboa ambush against Nigerian forces along the Damboa -Maiduguri road. 

The new ISWAP leadership is said to be behind the new strategy of training child soldiers, some as young as 13years in the Tumbus of Lake Chad. These young fighters have replaced a depleted force and are deployed in various locations across the lake chad region.

The new jihadist are benefiting from a joint collaboration from foreign terrorist AJWAJ. 

Sources say there is a higher possibility of continuous operational collaboration between the new ISWAP leadership of Ba Lawan with the Boko Haram Shekau JAS faction. A battlefield synergy reported in the double Boko Haram ISWAP attack on Damboa road. The trio- Albarnawi- Shekau and Ba Lawan have similar leadership and ideology although Shekau believes in localisation of Boko Haram.

The new ISWAP leadership, like others before it, has also engaged in mass cattle rustling for operational survival.  

Sources say they are directly responsible for stealing over 20000 cows within the past 21 days. Some of the stolen cattle are currently hidden in a location given as Tunbum Allura.

The continued leadership chaos within Boko Haram ISWAP factions is another clear indicator that these jihadist groups in Northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin are driven more by power, criminality and less by ideological doctrines. A concerted effort from the civilian population and regional security and armed forces at all levels will yield more results beyond current battlefield gains.

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About The Author

David Otto is 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


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