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Suspected to be dead Muhammed Shekau now head of Boko Haram

Abubakar Muhammad Shekau was once thought to have been
killed, but has re-emerged to lead Islamist group Boko Haram
from the shadows as it carries out a bloody onslaught in
northern Nigeria.
Very little is known about Shekau, but this week he
appeared on YouTube, threatening more attacks and saying
Boko Haram was responsible for the January 20 violence
which killed 185 people in Kano in reprisal for the arrest and
torture of its members.
Aged 43, he was born in a farming village also called Shekau
in northeastern Yobe state.
He moved to the nearby city of Maiduguri, Boko Haram’s base,
about a decade ago, according to sources familiar with the
Shekau studied theology under local clerics in the Mafoni area
of Maiduguri and enrolled in a government-run school for
Islamic studies.
He is often shown in photos wearing a keffiyeh and seated
next to an AK-47, his face intense.
A video released on YouTube earlier this month portrayed a
markedly different man compared to earlier images — he
appeared considerably heavier, for example — but a
Western diplomat said “we assessed it was Shekau.”
He was seen as the second-in-command of Boko Haram at
the time of a 2009 uprising put down by a brutal military
assault which left some 800 people dead.
The leader at the time, Mohammed Yusuf, was captured by
soldiers and handed over to police. He was later killed when
police claimed he was trying to escape, though rights groups
have called it a summary execution.
The two were said to have met through a man named
Mamman Nur, thought to be the group’s third-in-command at
the time of the uprising and who authorities labelled the
mastermind of an August suicide attack on UN headquarters
in Abuja that killed 25 people.
Police also claimed Shekau had been killed in the 2009
assault, but he appeared less than a year later in video clips
being circulated in Nigeria. Some say he had been shot in the
leg and went into hiding in Chad and Sudan.
Shekau had been seen by some as more eager to resort to
violence than Yusuf and has having pushed the late leader
into carrying out attacks sooner than he might have liked.
In videos, Shekau also appears far less charismatic than
Yusuf, who rallied youths to his cause by excoriating
corruption and lashing out at authorities in his rousing
The voice said to be Shekau in the message posted on
YouTube on Thursday said “we attacked the security
formations because our members were arrested and
tortured. Our women and children have also been arrested.
“They should know that they also have wives and children,”
he said. “We can also abduct them. It is not beyond our
In another part of the message, he says, “I enjoy killing
anyone that God commands me to kill the way I enjoy killing
chickens and rams.”....

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