The newly appointed leader of Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) - ISIS most active and notorious jihadist movement in the world - Amir Abubakar Lawan has appointed his new 'Cabinet' made up of loyal commanders. Frontline troops of the Nigerian Armed Forces led by the Nigerian Army and regional multinational joint task force (MNJTF) have continued to engage jihadists factions in battlefield offensives in the North East and North West of Nigeria; and the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin states of Cameroon, Niger, and Chad. 

Amir Abubakar Lawan AKA "Ba Lawan", the new leader of Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), has appointed and redeployed new strategic Commanders to lead ISWAP operation campaigns of terror against the government of Nigeria and regional state troops of the MJTF in the Lake Chad.

Five key ISWAP Commanders have been redeployed by Ba Lawan around the flanks of some Tumbu's of the Lake Chad Basin.


 1- Amir Abu Ali, 32 years-old. He is known to be an indigene of Abadam LGA and commander of Arege unit.


 2- Amir Abu Shuwa 35 years-old. Abu Shuwa is from Talatangam village and is said to the commander of Gashagar unit.


 3- Amir Abu Waqas. His real name is Babagana, 35 years-old, from Gawasa village. He has been deployed as the Commander of Talatangam unit.


 4- Amir Abakar, is a 40 years-old from Jabullam. He is a commander of Jabullam unit.


 5- Amir Lawan (age unknown) from Yaumango. He is a commander of Yaumango unit.


The newly deployed unit Commanders have been instructed to coordinate consistent attacks against Nigeria Military positions and troops of the MNJTF Lake Chad region; increase jihadist defence capabilities to avoid a repeat of successful ground and aerial offensives from regional forces. The use of various soft and hard surveillance techniques has been encouraged, including unsuspecting counter-intelligence measures deployed outside and within Internally Displaced Camps (IDPs). 

Abba Gana in ISWAP Custody

 The previous leader, Amir Abba Gana, was dismissed as the ISWAP leader by the Shura council for his consistent weakness and for failure to demonstrate adequate command and control in the group operations against the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Under the leadership of Abba Gana, ISWAP witnessed the biggest casualties of its top 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), regional troops within the past six months. The death of Amir Abu Imrana, the commander of ISWAP special forces in mid-June in the hands of Nigerian Army from a gunshot wound in Marte LGA left the jihadist in tatters. 


Amir Abba Gana known by several other names including Abdullahi Hairiya and Abu Abdullah is being held with some of his loyal commanders at a location only given as Tumbun Tawaye. A few notorious commanders are held with him -- Amir Yalan Bulu, a buduma by tribe; Amir Abbakaka and Amir Abu Khadija. These key ISWAP commanding Officers are known to have been sacked with Abba Gana. They are currently under the supervised custody of the ISWAP New Chief Judge, Amir Malumma, who will decide on their faith after consultation with ISIS core and or AZWAJ sponsors. 

 New Leader Copies Child Soldier Tactics -Establish New ISWAP Camps

Following the previous leadership desperate tactics of filling the gaps of depleted fighters, the new ISWAP leadership continues to support the recruitment and training of child soldiers in the Tumbus of Lake Chad. These young fighters are deployed in various locations across the lake chad region.

Impeccable sources with knowledge of the new group dynamics confirm that on 13th July 2020, local time 3:56 pm, an ISWAP unit positioned hundreds of foot soldiers at the north of Gashagar. The mission was to monitor any movement of items, persons, animals and military around the areas of Damasak, Gudumbali and Baga town for ambush and asset recovery.


 A series of multiple successful precision airstrikes by the Nigerian Army/Nigerian Air-Force against the previous ISWAP jihadist regime has forced strategic location changes. The New ISWAP leader has re-established and re-equipped new camps around the Lake Chad Basin. Some of the camps are known as; Tumbun xxx, Tumbun xxx, Tumbun xxx, Tumbun xxx, and Tumbun xxx in Abadam LGA. And Tumbun xxx, Tumbun xxx and xxx in Kukawa LGA. Several fighters have been deployed to maintain security and smooth operations of these new camps. Movement of camps is a nightmare for jihadist as there is risk involved made worse by resource needs for re-establishment. 

Most of the recent attacks targeted at military and civilian convoys and abductions by ISWAP groups is to enable the acquisition of financial and human resources to realise relocation needs necessary for jihadist survival and least for expanding territorial control and operations.  

The security and armed Forces of regional states should promptly coordinate all necessary operational measures on all the listed locations. This is due to plans by jihadist to cut off and isolate these locations from the northern axis with the Lake Chad Basin. If this happens, any access and advancement routes will be blocked from regional security and armed forces after the raining season.


Ba Lawan has strengthened operational collaboration with factions of Modu Sulum, Amir Modu Borzogo and Amir Kannami. This was confirmed in battlefield synergy experienced in recent multiple attacks on Damboa road where the insurgents are suspected of having seized about nine-gun trucks from the Nigerian Military. The gun trucks are currently in the custody of Modu Sulum at xxx Boko Haram Camp along the Damboa axis.

 The Nigerian military and regional troops should sustain operations around Gujba, Kaga and Damboa LGAs and guide itself in the course of the operations on the following locations that the BHT groups occupy:- 1. Gujba LGA: xxx, and xxx villages. 2. Damboa LGA: xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx and xxx villages. 3. Kaga LGA: Borgozo, Alagarno, xxx. 4. Konduga LGA: xxx, xxx villages. 

Furthermore, sources have confirmed that ISWAP new unit commanders; Furasha, Kayid and Hisbah and others observe Friday Jumma'at prayers at the central mosque in Bidewa village, located South of Arege town. The mosque at Bidewa village should be surveyed for COIN measures. 

The existential leadership crisis within Boko Haram ISWAP factions since the group pledged allegiance to ISIS core IN 2015 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 promoted by ISIS core. A concerted national and regional effort from the civilian population and regional security and armed forces at all levels will yield more off and on the battlefield results. 

COIN is the peoples' war. If the Army is losing, it is because the people are not winning. Sustaining a civil-military synergy based on trust is critical to any COIN success. 


David Otto, CMAS – Counter Terrorism & Organized Crime Consultant and Director of Stepped-In Step Out (SISO) Email:; Twitter: @ottotgs


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