Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, ISIS, has announced a new leader for its West African branch which is Boko Haram.
According to BBC, the terrorist group announced this in the latest issue of their magazine. The magazine featured its first interview with Abu Musab al-Barnawi who replaces Abubakar Shekau.
ISIS referred to Abu Musab al-Barnawi, who was previously spokesman for Boko Haram, as the new leader replacing Abubakar Shekau.
The replacement comes after rumours spread that Shekau had been killed or replaced as the leader has not made a verified video appeareance for the past year.
In March 2016, Boko Haram was believed to have released a video featuring Shekau. However, the unusual poor quality of the footage raised suspicions over its authenticity. Furthermore, the video was only shared on YouTube, rather than on Twitter accounts affiliated with Boko Haram’s ally, 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. Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people since 2009 and was deemed the world’s deadliest terror group, surpassing Islamic State in November 2015. Nigeria has also become the world’s third most terrorized country as a result of the group’s violent insurgency.