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New ISIS Leader Reshuffles ‘Cabinet’, as Security Services Mount Offensive Pressure on Strongholds.

The newly appointed leader of Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) – ISIS most active and notorious jihadist movement in the world – Amir Abubakar Lawan has appointed his new ‘Cabinet’ made up of loyal commanders. Frontline troops of the Nigerian Armed Forces led Nigerian Army and regional multinational joint task force (MNJTF) have continued to engage jihadists factions in battlefield offensives in the North East and recently, North West of Nigeria; and the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin states of Cameroon, Niger, and Chad.

An exclusive intelligence has it that, Amir Abubakar Lawan AKA “Ba Lawan”, the new leader of Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), has appointed and strategically redeployed fresh Commanders to lead ISWAP operation campaigns of terror against the government of Nigeria and regional state troops of the MJTF in the Lake Chad. Accordingly, five new key ISWAP Commanders have been redeployed by Ba Lawan around Tumbus and other flanks of the Lake Chad Basin general area.

The fresh commanders and their dispositions according to the impeccable source, are as follows:

1- Amir Abu Ali, is 32 years-old and an indigene of Abadam LGA, Borno State. He is the Commander of Arege unit.

2- Amir Abu Shuwa is 35 years-old and hailed from Talatangam village and is said to the Commander of Gashagar unit.

3- Amir Abu Waqas. His real name is Babagana and is 35 years-old, from Gawasa village. He has been deployed as the Commander of Talatangam unit.

4- Amir Abakar, is a 40 years-old from Jabullam. He is the Commander of Jabullam unit.

5- Amir Lawan (age unknown), is from Yaumango. He is a Commander of Yaumango unit.

All the five newly deployed unit Commanders have been instructed to coordinate consistent attacks against Nigerian military positions and troops of the MNJTF around Lake Chad region. They were to increase the jihadists defence capabilities to avoid a repeat of successful ground and aerial offensives from regional forces. The use of various soft and hard surveillance techniques has been encouraged including unsuspecting counterintelligence measures deployed outside and within Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.

Abba Gana in ISWAP Custody

The previous leader, Amir Abba Gana, was dismissed as the ISWAP leader by the Shura council for his alleged consistent weakness and for failure to demonstrate adequate command and control in the group’s operations against the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Under the leadership of Abba Gana, ISWAP witnessed the biggest casualties of its top commanders in the hands of Nigerian Army in the recent offensives directly commander and coordinated by Lt-Gen Tukur Yusufu Buratai, the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff. They suffered similar fate earlier from the Chadian Defence under the supervision of President Idriss Derby and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), regional troops.

The death of Amir Abu Imrana, the commander of ISWAP special forces in mid-June in the hands of Nigerian Army from a gunshot wound in Marte LGA of Borno State, left the jihadists in tatters.

Amir Abba Gana known by several other names including “Abdullahi Hairiya” and “Abu Abdullah” is being held with some of his loyal commanders at a location only given as Tumbun Tawaye. A few notorious commanders are also held along with him. These include; Amir Yalan Bulu, a Buduma by tribe, Amir Abbakaka and Amir Abu Khadija. These key ISWAP commanders are known to have been sacked with Abba Gana. They are currently under the supervised custody of the ISWAP New Chief Judge, Amir Malumma, who will decide on their fate any moment from now. However, this will be after consultation with ISIS core and or AZWAJ sponsors.

ISWAP new Leader copies child soldier tactics-establish new camps

Following the previous ISWAP leadership’s desperate tactics of filling the gaps of depleted fighters, the new leadership continues to recruit and train child soldiers in the Tumbus of Lake Chad. These minors and underaged fighters are deployed in various locations across the Lake Chad region.

Impeccable and very reliable sources with knowledge of the new group’s dynamics confirmed that on 13th July 2020, (3:56pm local time), an ISWAP unit positioned hundreds of foot soldiers (Furasha) around north of Gashagar. Their mission was to monitor any movement of items, persons, animals and military around the areas of Damasak, Gudumbali and Baga towns for attack, ambush, asset recovery and booty.

A series of multiple successful precision artillery bombardment, air strikes by the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force against the previous ISWAP jihadists’ regime has forced strategic location changes. The New ISWAP leader has re-established and re-equipped new camps around the Lake Chad Basin. Several fighters have been deployed to maintain security and smooth operations of these new camps. Movement of camps is a nightmare for jihadists because of the risks involved. This is made worse by resource needs for re-establishment.

Most of the recent attacks targeted at military and civilian convoys and abductions by ISWAP groups is to enable the acquisition of financial and human resources to realise relocation needs necessary for jihadist survival and expanding territorial control and operations.

The security and armed forces of regional states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission should promptly coordinate all necessary operational measures on all the listed locations. This is due to plans by jihadists to cut off and isolate these locations from the northern axis with the Lake Chad Basin. If this happens, any access and advancement routes will be blocked after the raining season.

New Coalitions

The new leader, Ba Lawan, has strengthened operational collaborations with factions led by Modu Sulum, Amir Modu Borzogo and Amir Kannami. This was confirmed in battlefield synergy experienced in recent multiple attacks on Damboa road where the insurgents were suspected to have seized about nine-gun trucks from the Nigerian military. The Nigerian military and regional troops should sustain operations around all the identified areas.

The existential leadership crisis within Boko Haram /ISWAP terrorists’ factions since the group pledged allegiance to ISIS core in 2015 is another clear indicator that these jihadists groups in northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin are driven more by power, criminality and less by ideological doctrines promoted by ISIS core. A concerted national and regional effort from the civilian population and regional security and armed forces at all levels will yield more off and on the battlefield results.

Counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations are the peoples’ war. If the military is losing, it is because the people are not winning It. Sustaining a civil -military synergy based on trust is critical to the any success counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations.

David Otto, CMAS – Counter Terrorism & Organized Crime Consultant and Director of Stepped-In Step Out (SISO)

Twitter: @ottotgs

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