DECLARED dead on at least four occasions, the bloodthirsty jihadi described as the world’s most wanted fugitive has struck again.
Fanatical Abubakar Shekau – who heads ISIS African franchise Boko Haram – claimed responsibility for kidnapping more than 300 boys from a school in Nigeria’s northwest region last week.
Boko Haram’s fanatical leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the kidnap of more than 300 schoolboys[/caption]
Shekau unleashed a posse of gun-toting, motorbike-riding jihadis who stormed the secondary school in Kankara in the north western state of Katsina last week.
Twisted Boko Haram have previously used abducted children as sex slaves, suicide bombers and child soldiers.
Warlord Shekau released an audio statement on Tuesday boasting: “We are behind what happened in Katsina.
In a recording, Shekau claimed ‘what happened in Katsina was done to promote Islam’[/caption]
“What happened in Katsina was done to promote Islam and discourage un-Islamic practices as Western education is not the type of education permitted by Allah and his holy prophet.”
On Thursday the boys were released with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari calling it “a big relief to their families, the entire country and to the international community.”
String of atrocities
But it’s unclear whether all the boys have been released. Some of the students aged 12 to 17 who escaped during the abduction said others had died when their captors marched them through a forest.
There is speculation as to whether a ransom was paid – though the government deny this.
It is currently unclear whether the jihadi group has released all the boys[/caption]
Shekau, 47, has led Boko Haram since July 2009, yet despite masterminding a string of atrocities he has evaded capture or assassination.
Like a desert jackal, he seems to disappear into the parched bush country of the Sahel region without trace.
The US government has offered a reward of up to £4.6m for information on his location.
A Nigerian security source told The Sun: “Shekau’s well protected. Boko Haram are well-trained, with their own Special Forces, an intelligence centre and a media centre.”
Thousands of innocents killed and kidnapped
Boko Haram has caused havoc with a series of bombings, assassinations and abductions as it attempts to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state.
Thousands of innocents have been killed and kidnapped while more than a million have been displaced by the violence.
The group has caused havoc in West and Central Africa [/caption]
Abducted women who have escaped the terror group’s clutches speak of torture, rape and forced marriage.
At the heart of its warped doctrine is its violent opposition to Western-style education.
Boko Haram – which means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa tongue – made global headlines in 2014 when it abducted 276 mostly Christian girls from a school in the town of Chibok.
The girls were forced to convert to Islam and to marry Boko Haram jihadis with a reputed “bride price” of £4.
In 2014, the group sparked global outrage after the kidnap of 276 school girls[/caption]
In a chilling video a month after the abductions, Abubakar Shekau boasted: “Slavery is allowed in my religion, and I shall capture people and make them slaves.”
A global campaign using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls was tweeted over a million times in just three weeks.
Those backing the campaign by holding up a sign with the hashtag including then Prime Minister David Cameron, former First Lady Michelle Obama, supermodel Cara Delevingne and actor Harrison Ford.
The RAF carried out air reconnaissance over northern Nigeria in the months following the Chibok outrage in an effort to locate the girls.
Former British prime minister David Cameron lent his voice to the campaign[/caption]
A source involved in the mission – codenamed Operation Turus – told the Observer: “The girls were located in the first few weeks of the RAF mission.
“We offered to rescue them, but the Nigerian government declined.”
The Nigerian government believed it was a “national issue” to be resolved by its own intelligence and security services.
Raping and beheading children
After the Chibok outrage more girls were abducted from their villages.
Many of the girls escaped or were freed after negotiations with the Nigerian government.
The kidnapped girls were forced to convert to Islam and married off to jihadists [/caption]
One girl, who managed to flee, was captured by Boko Haram when she was just 12 and raped multiple times.
Describing how the jihadis maintained their rule of terror, she told how the militants one day gathered their captive children into a forest clearing and forced a girl to lie on the dirt in front of the group.
She recalled: “They said to us, ‘If anyone tries to run away, this is the same treatment we will give you people.’
The terrorists then beheaded the girl.
More than 1,000 kids have been kidnapped by Boko Haram since 2013[/caption]
The witness added: “Her eyes were wide open.”
UNICEF revealed in 2018 that more than 1,000 children have been kidnapped by Boko Haram since 2013.
Rise of a ruthless leader
Fugitive leader Shekau, who delivers his internet threats in battle fatigues while cradling an AK-47, was born in Shekau town in north eastern Nigeria.
Even by local standards Shekau was raised in abject poverty.
Shekau became the leader of the group after serving as deputy of its former boss Mohammed Yusuf who was gunned down by the Nigerian army[/caption]
The family home was a mud-walled shack in a slum area of the town.
A former classmate remembered him as a loner who went on to study at the Borno College of Legal and Islamic Studies.
He became leader of Boko Haram in 2009 when Mohammed Yusuf – who founded the group which was initially non-violent seven years earlier – was gunned down by the Nigerian military.
‘He was wicked’
One of Boko Haram’s founding members – who left the group when they took up arms – told The Sun: ”Shekau once had mental problems and was sent to a psychological hospital.
“He has lunatic tendencies.
Shekau was described as having ‘lunatic tendencies’ by one of Boko Haram’s founding leaders [/caption]
“When he was an Islamic student his peers dreaded him. He was wicked.
“He would tie a string to his metal plate which he used to beg for food. When the string was knotted enough, he flung it towards his colleagues who would normally stand aloof from him and the plate hit their heads and blood would gush out.”
Another former Boko Haram member revealed: “He’s a fanatic, not well versed in Islamic law.”
Sadistic bloodlust pleasure
Under Shekau’s bloodthirsty leadership, Boko Haram became one of the world’s most feared terror operations.
It attacked more than 1,400 schools, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.
Shekau in 2012 boasted that he enjoys ‘killing anyone that God commands’ him to kill [/caption]
Writing for the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, Emeka Okereke said: “Shekau has transformed the organisation from a sporadically violent puritanical sect to an extremely violent organisation, even exporting violence beyond Nigeria.”
After his jihadis killed more than 180 people in Kano, northern Nigeria’s largest city, in 2012, Shekau boasted in a video clip: “I enjoy killing anyone that God commands me to kill – the way I enjoy killing chickens and rams.”
Following the kidnap of the Chibok girls in April, 2014, he appeared wild-eyed in another video bragging: “I abducted your girls.
“I will sell them in the market, by Allah. I will sell them off and marry them off.”
In March 2015, Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who killed himself and two children during a US raid in Syria in 2019.
Unbridled campaign of terror
Unlike Baghdadi and al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, Shekau has avoided being killed or captured.
Despite four reports of his death he remains very much at large.
Despite reports of his death, Shekau still remains at large [/caption]
Unlike terrorists such as Osama Bin Laden, Shekau has managed to avoid being captured or killed[/caption]
In 2018 his mother Falmata told Voice of America: “For 15 years I haven’t seen him.
“Yes, he’s my son and every mother loves her son, but we have different characters.
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“He brought a lot of problems to many people. Where can I meet him to tell him that these things he is doing are very bad?
“He brought many problems to many people, but I am praying for God to show him the good way.”
Yet salvation for Shekau – a man drenched in the blood of thousands of innocents – seems an impossible prospect.