Throughout the “Boko Haram” movement’s history, there have been tensions between its more moderate and more extreme ideological streaks. However, in May 2021, it appears the movement’s moderate streak finally won out, with the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi chasing down and forcing the self-inflicted death of Abubakar Shekau. ISWAP is a more capable militant and ideological force than Shekau, whose faction’s key members have since defected to ISWAP itself. The Nigerian government and army understandably view Shekau’s demise as a positive development, but the long-term battle against ISWAP may be even more difficult now that ISWAP monopolizes the jihadist insurgency. This report summarizes the events leading to the ISWAP-Shekau confrontation, including the primary source audios and videos that each faction released during those events and discusses ways the Nigerian army and government may now confront ISWAP itself.
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