The Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has named Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new leader of deadly sect, Boko Haram.
The ISIS, al-Nabaa newspaper identified Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new “Wali” of its West Africa Province, a title previously used to describe long-time leader Abubakar Shekau.
According to report from Associated Press (AP) yesterday, the Boko Haram Islamic extremists new leader promises to end attacks on mosques and markets used by Muslims.
The report did not say what Shekau’s current status is.
The eccentric Mr. Shekau was last seen in a Boko Haram propaganda video in March 2015, one of many footages released in his years of leading a brutal campaign against the Nigerian state.
In one of the videos, Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS, which was originally based in Syria and Iraq. ISIS has several offshoots now in other countries including Libya.
Mr. Shekau took over as Boko Haram leader after the group’s founder, Muhammad Yusuf, died in police custody in July 2009.
Boko Haram became more deadly and radicalized under his leadership.
The announcement indicates a coup by Boko Haram breakaway group Ansaru against Shekau, and follows a trend of extremist Islamic groups moving away from al-Qaida to the ISIS, analyst Jacob Zenn said.
Ansaru broke away from Boko Haram because it disagrees with the indiscriminate killing of civilians, especially Muslims.
Al-Barnawi is the pseudonym of a Nigerian journalist allied with Ansaru, which is known for kidnapping foreigners, according to Zenn.