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The leader of Boko Haram — the Nigerian terror group that has killed tens of thousands of people and kidnapped hundreds of schoolchildren — has killed himself, according to reports.
Abubakar Shekau — once rejected by ISIS for being too radical — died last month as the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) was under ISIS leadership commands to capture him, Reuters said.
After a gun battle, he was cornered and offered the chance to repent and join his rivals — but instead killed himself by detonating an explosive device, the wire service said, citing an ISWAP audio recording.
“Abubakar Shekau, God has judged him by sending him to heaven,” ISWAP leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi said on the audio, the agency said.
“Shekau preferred to be humiliated in the afterlife than getting humiliated on earth, and he killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive,” al-Barnawi said in the audio, also heard by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
A Nigerian intelligence report shared by a government official and Boko Haram researchers have also said Shekau is dead, Reuters said.
Shekau led Boko Haram since at least 2010, with the US making him a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and putting a $7 million bounty on his head.
Under his leadership, the terror group has killed more than 30,000 people and forced around 2 million people to flee their homes, Reuters said.
He often forced women and children to be suicide bombers, attacked mosques and called Muslim civilians not loyal to his group “legitimate targets,” all of which horrified even ISIS.
His group came to prominence in 2014 with the kidnapping of more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, sparking a global campaign for their return backed by the likes of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
Around 100 of the Chibok Girls are still missing — many assumed dead, Reuters said. There have also been numerous reports of incessant rape and women being forced into marriages, as well as numerous other mass kidnappings, including this year.
Shekau — who also executed lieutenants over paranoia about their loyalty — said in one widely cited 2012 propaganda video, “I enjoy killing … the way I enjoy slaughtering chickens and rams.”
From at least 2014, the group began overrunning northeastern towns in an attempt to create an Islamic state under Sharia law, sparking fighting with rival jihadists.
“ISWAP had framed Shekau as the problem and he was the only person they wanted to remove,” said Bulama Bukarti, an analyst specializing in Boko Haram at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
Since his death, ISIS is “consolidating the whole area, the Lake Chad region and (Shekau’s stronghold),” Bukarti said.
The group’s name is officially Jama’atu Ahlis-Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal-Jihad, Arabic for “People Committed to the Prophet’s Teachings for Propagation and Jihad.”
But, because of its teachings, people called it “Boko Haram,” which means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language spoken across the north.
With Post wires
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