Sunday, May 23, 2021

Boko Haram Placed On Creditwatch—Negative

 The feelgood story of the week.

From the Wall Street Journal, May 22:

Boko Haram Leader, Responsible for Chibok Schoolgirl Kidnappings, Dies
Death of Abubakar Shekau removes one the world’s most brutal and effective terrorists

Abubakar Shekau, the fundamentalist warlord who turned Boko Haram from an obscure radical sect into a jihadist army whose war with the Nigerian state has left tens of thousands dead across four nations, has died, according to officials, mediators, phone calls intercepted by a West African spy agency and internal intelligence memos seen by The Wall Street Journal.

His death, which Nigeria’s military has erroneously reported at least three times before, was confirmed by five Nigerian officials who detailed how he detonated a suicide vest during a confrontation with rival insurgents to avoid being taken alive.

It removes one the world’s most brutal and effective terrorists, who plunged four nations, including Africa’s most populous, into a religious war. Globally, he was best known for kidnapping nearly 300 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok on the night before their final exams, an abduction that sparked the world-wide social-media movement #BringBackOurGirls.

There was no official confirmation from Nigeria’s government, Boko Haram or the media arm of Islamic State. The Journal was able to review transcripts of geolocated, intercepted calls between insurgents discussing his suicide, alongside an audio message from a longtime mediator between Shekau and the government reporting him dead.

“Shekau detonated a bomb and killed himself,” one intercepted militant commander said.

Two senior officials and two government mediators said hundreds of fighters from the breakaway Islamic State West Africa Province, or Iswap, reached Shekau’s base on Wednesday in the Timbuktu region of the Sambisa Forest where the Chibok hostages had been held years earlier. Iswap had in previous months turned several of Shekau’s most senior lieutenants, allowing it to break through his defenses, the officials said. Surrounded, Shekau detonated his suicide vest.  

A child beggar born in Nigeria’s impoverished northeast, Shekau became the cackling face of a militant movement that kidnapped tens of thousands of children, forcing them into battle or marriage. Pursued by the air and manpower of more than seven foreign militaries, he evaded capture inside forest hide-outs too remote for a steady phone connection while marshaling the power of the internet to catapult his brand of extreme violence onto the world stage.

In hourlong diatribes uploaded to YouTube, millions of Nigerians could watch him threaten civilians or insult world leaders, telling his followers to “just pick up your knives, break into their homes, and kill,” in a grotesque pantomime of militancy.

The U.S. government’s $7 million reward for his capture made Shekau Africa’s most wanted man, a bounty that put him on a watch list alongside Osama bin Laden, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Islamic State founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, though he outlived them all. Like Liberian warlord Charles Taylor or Uganda’s Joseph Kony, he was the singular figure driving a war in which children fought, vanished from their homes, and died.

“Shekau has been the longest lasting terrorist leader in the world; perhaps the world’s least understood warlord and its most underestimated,” said Bulama Bukarti, an analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, who is among the many prominent Nigerians Shekau had publicly threatened. “This is a huge moment for Nigeria.”

Under Shekau’s command, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 10,000 boys as child fighters—dispatched to swarm military bases or burn down their own schools—Nigerian officials estimated. It abducted a similar number of girls, who were forced into marriage or into suicide vests. His attacks on government schools—which his followers blamed for corrupting Muslim youth—prompted the country, where half the population isn’t yet 18, to close hundreds of campuses. Nigeria became home to 15 million out-of-class children, according to Unicef, more than any other nation.

His death could unite feuding jihadist factions, or allow for peace talks with commanders who have long viewed Shekau as an intransigent obstacle, people close to the government’s mediation efforts said....


Yes, yes, nature and terrorists abhor a vacuum but good riddance to bad rubbish.