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12-Year-Olds Among 300 Libya-Trained ISWAP Fighters Who ‘Conquered’ Boko Haram Leader, Shekau

Written by anitaadims

Over 300 fighters loyal to the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) trained in Libya and other countries joined their colleagues in a long battle that led to the final fall of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau on Wednesday.

According to a report by Daily Trust, a fierce battle that lasted several days between the two factions led to the death of dozens of vicious commanders and hundreds of foot soldiers from both sides, with multiple sources saying Shekau has killed himself or fatally injured himself to the extent that he might not survive.

It was gathered that most of the fighters that fought for the defeat of Shekau on Wednesday were aged between 12 and 30.

“They are actually children of some ISWAP members killed over time,” a security source said.

According to him, “Others are youths sourced during raids on multiple islands around the Lake Chad. The ISWAP carefully selected the youths. It was therefore much easier for recruitment as some of the youths willingly joined the group and others were forcefully conscripted.

“Some of them were born during the wartime and others were very young when their parents joined the group around 2002. After their parents died because of illness or confrontation with Nigerian troops, the children naturally took over and when the group split into two in 2016, those that moved on their own or forcefully taken to the shores of Lake Chad under the umbrella of ISWAP had an upper hand in terms of training because they were taken to Libya for training in guerrilla warfare and other purposes.

“Others were sent to Syria and Somalia… They were taken to many countries abroad for training. However, those that came back especially between March and April this year took an active part in confronting Shekau in the last few days. They launched a serious offensive alongside other top commanders and fighters already on ground and they succeeded in taking over,” he said.

Another credible source said some of the 300 youths were trained as “medical doctors, paramedics, engineers, IT specialists, bomb specialists and mechanics.”

He added that among them were women “who serve as nurses or cooks while others have gun-handling skills, meaning they can partake in combat operations.”

He said after their return from abroad, they were camped at a village called Shuwaram in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State.

It had been reported that ISWAP fighters, armed with sophisticated weapons had penetrated the infamous Sambisa Forest from different fronts and surrounded the place Shekau used as a safe sanctuary for years.

They reportedly killed many of his fighters and forced him to surrender.

A signal from security sources indicated that when Shekau discovered that it was the end of the road for him, and ISWAP fighters had directed him to relinquish his position as the grand amir and successor to the founder of the group Mohammed Yusuf, he opted for suicide by detonating the explosives he strapped to his body.

However, the AFP news agency reported that when Shekau reached the point of no return as he was surrounded by ISWAP fighters, he shot himself in the chest, fell on the ground while bleeding profusely but was whisked away to an unknown destination by some of his surviving loyal fighters.

Another source said ahead of the invasion of Sambisa by the factional group, one of the top commanders of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and his lieutenants had visited the shores of the Lake Chad in the company with ISWAP leader Goni Mustafa.

 

“The entourage were seen on two boats with ISIS flag. Some of those in the entourage were light-skinned people possibly from Libya or Syria. It was only Mustafa that was black. They first visited Marte before they proceeded to Sabon Tumbu.

“They also visited Kirta, Kusuma and Kwallaram where they held meetings with commanders and other fighters,” the source said.

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