Impeccable sources have confirmed that a successful coordinated aerial strike by the Nigerian military targeting hideout camps of ISIS in Africa affiliate - Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) has killed more than 20 foreign specialised ISIS fighters described by local sources as ‘Light skinned men’ and several Boko Haram high value Commanders along the fringes of the Lake Chad and Nigeria's North-Eastern state of Borno.

The week long HUMINT led aerial strike launched by the Nigerian Air Force in coordination with the Nigerian Army and the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) took place in the week of 19th - 21st of August 2020. The most impacted ISWAP locations were given as Sabon Tombo and Tudun Wulgo in Marte Local Government Area (LGA) Borno State.


Preliminary damage assessment confirmed that the air strikes successfully hit the heart of ISWAP terrorist hideouts, killing about 20 newly arrived foreign ISIS fighters as well as key ISWAP unit Commanders. Hundreds more escaped with severe life-threatening injuries and burns. This is not the first time the Nigerian Military is successfully targeting ISIS foreign fighters in the region.

Names of ISIS Commanders Killed by Nigerian Air Force MOAB:

Sources have revealed that some of the high-ranking ISWAP Commanders confirmed killed in the air-strikes include; Malam Musa Judum, a Jukun by tribe – Malam Musa is considered to be the group’s Chief Medical Doctor. Malam Abba, a resident of Nglewa and highly respected commander; One Malam Baba Isa, the Coordinator of the ISWAP fishing activities in the Tunbums; and Malam Ali Abdallah, a trusted guard to ISWAP Commander Umar Lene – many more are reported to have been wiped out without trace in what may be described as a MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) airstrike. 

The targeted foreign ISIS mercenaries are reported to have first arrived Tumbun Gini (ISWAP Headquarters) by mid Aug 2020 accompanied by about 300 newly trained terrorist fighters from an unknown training location linked with a faction of the Islamic State of the Greater Sahel (ISGS) in Mali. The role of the newly trained fighters was to consolidate planned offensive efforts from ISWAP terrorist camps based in locations given as Kirta, Kwalaram and Sabon Tumbu. These locations were until recently serving as one of the biggest terrorist hideouts with unconfirmed reports of more than 3,000 newly recruited young jihadist fighters mostly between the age of 13 to 16 years -old harbouring in these locations.


The week planned and sustained aerial offensives has severely disrupted ISWAP operational command and further diminished the group's plan to launch guerrilla style attacks on uncooperating soft civilian and hard military formations in and around locations in Monguno, Malam Fatori, Damasak, Gubio, Cross kwawa and MJTF Baga. These plans had depended on the mobilization of experienced and trained fighters from AZWAJ - ISIS foreign fighters from Libya and Mali Republic. 


Many surviving and wounded jihadist have been spotted escaping to other known camps toward Bulgaram, Kirta and Bakassi. These locations could be used to treat wounded fighters. Others were spotted moving their families to safer hideout in Buningir, Kwatalo, sunuri, saliyo and Karfi, in the Lake Chad to escape from further air strikes, while others may choose to escape through Gamboru Fotokol and Yola in Adamawa state, through Bulgaram.

Several ISWAP wounded militants were conveyed in three boats from the destroyed camps of Sabon Tombo to Kirta under the escort of the infamous Abu Imrana, Abubakar Buduma, Umar Lene and Ali Kwata, also very high ranking ISWAP terrorist Commanders.


Some of the locations below are known hideouts for ISWAP and Boko Haram groups – and should be promptly surveyed and visited by the Nigerian Military and MNJTF troops.  

Image for illustrative purpose only.

Bakkassi, Jibularam, with an approximate coordinate of Long. xxxxx, Lat. xxxxx, 

Tudun wulgo, with approximate coordinate, Long xxxxx and Lat. Xxxxx; 

Kirta, with cord. Lat. 12. xxxxx and lat. 13. Xxxxx; kusuman an approximate Cord. Long. 12. xxxxx and Lat. xxxxx, (ISWAP hiding in makeshift tents and hiding their arms and dozens of gun trucks under thick kangar trees in this particular location);

Kattikime, located close to Kerenowa with an approximate Cord. Long. 12. xxxxx and lat. 13. Xxxxx. A Significant number of Boko Haram ISWAP Special forces are currently camping at Larki with an approximate cord. Long. 13. xxxxx and Lat. 13. Xxxxx.

The complex terrain of Tumbun Gini serves as ISWAP HQ despite previous heavy bombardment by the Nigerian military and MNJTF troop states – further known hideouts given as Cord. 13. xxxxx and Lat. 13. xxxxx approximately.

According to sources, Massive stolen medical consumables and food items had been arriving Kirta with cord. Lat. xxxxx, and Lat. xxxxx. The wounded jihadists are currently focused on treating some of the wounded militants with less life threatening injuries. About 15 high ranking ISWAP Commanders are currently in Kirta to assist in the recovery process and reassess ISWAP future operations. With a heavy presence of Jihadist fighters in Kirta , a visit to these given locations should be prioritised by the Nigerian Military and troops from the Multi-National Joint Task Forces (MNJTF).


To win this war against ISWAP and Boko Haram JAS factions in North/West Nigeria and the Lake Chad basin, all local , national and regional civil and military stakeholders must share a common intervention goal.

The intensified intelligence led COIN ground and aerial offensives by the Nigerian Army; Nigerian Air- Force and regional states Chad , Niger and Cameroon must be sustained on identified jihadist hideouts. The current sustained battlefield impact is pushing a self-destruct amongst jihadist leadership setting ‘the cat amongst the pidgins’ targeting mainly Jihadist hideouts in the complex mountain and complex Islands of the Lake Chad Axis. As jihadist continue to relocate from one hideout to another, the risk of exposure and battlefield elimination increases.

Local communities must be protected to enhance civil-military relationships with genuine and practical efforts to win the hearts and minds of the local communities – As long as the local population feels unprotected and in constant fear of jihadist reprisal attacks , the security and armed forces will continue to suffer battlefield deficit in information flow. These unsettling battlefield changes within Boko Haram ISWAP jihadist leadership presents an opportunity for all Local, State and regional hands to be on deck.  

Military led aerial strikes have the potential to severely disrupt Boko Haram ISWAP operational activities in the region – but there is a need for inter-agency stakeholders to engage in all efforts to dry up and block Boko Haram and ISWAP from recruiting more fighters and acquiring operational resources at relative ease - making use of internal weaknesses and very porous regional borders. Without a comprehensive Counter Insurgency effort, these precision airstrikes will have a limited impact on the progress of the insurgency war – more vulnerable men and women will be recruited to fill the ranks of the fallen terrorist – and more citizens and brave men and women in uniform will continue to pay the ultimate blood price.

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About The Author

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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