ICC News: Boko Haram’s firebrand leader Ababukar Shekau has been reported dead countless times in the past and recent military advances against the group again call into question whether or not he remains alive. Shekau has become notorious for his terrifying rhetoric self-consciously targeting Christians, his brash style mocking western leaders and media attention, all while preaching an extremist brand of Islam bent of bloodshed, misogyny, and Muslim conquest of northern Nigeria. His terrorist organization stands responsible for some of the most extreme forms of Christian persecution: forced conversion or death, kidnapping and sexual servitude, suicide bombing using little girls, and several other atrocities.
By David Zounmenou, Senior Research Fellow, ISS Pretoria and Segun Rotimi Adeyemon, Post-Graduate Student, Unisa
9/3/15 Nigeria (AllAfrica) – Early in August 2015, the President of Chad, Idriss Deby, announced the death of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and a possible change in the militant group’s leadership. A purported picture of Shekau’s corpse was circulated in the media, but the Nigerian military neither denied nor confirmed the story.
That was not the first announcement of its kind. Army officers in Cameroon and Nigeria had made similar claims about Shekau in the past. But a few days after Deby’s pronouncements, in an audio recording, Shekau thanked Allah for still being alive and promised to continue his orgy of violence. It looks as if, like Saddam Hussein, Shekau has seven lives.
The Nigerian government and its regional allies would welcome the incapacitation of Shekau who was relatively unknown until he assumed the leadership of the Islamist group in July 2009. His rise to power produced one of the most brutal and deadly forms of terror ever witnessed in Africa. Before Shekau took over, the sect was largely involved in ‘hit and run’ tactics like throwing petrol bombs into police stations and attacking police checkpoints.
Under Shekau, Boko Haram transformed into a formidable terror group with a well organised propaganda machinery, networks across the region, and consolidated financial resources and weaponry.