In 2016, the Islamic State militant group announced Al-Barnawi as the leader of its West African affiliate, Boko Haram, which was hitherto led by Abubakar Shekau, who succeeded Yusuf.
Before his dethronement, Shekau had sworn allegiance to IS in March 2015, and had killed thousands of people and destroyed many communities during his reign of terror that extended up to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
His dislodgement in 2016 heralded the rise of the young Al-Barnawi as ISWAP leader and the inevitable splitting of the terror group into two factions.
It was reported that ISIS partly chose Al-Barnawi as leader in the Lake Chad region in order to punish Shekau, who reportedly “violated all known norms” and to also retain the confidence of Boko Haram fighters who were loyal to his father, Yusuf.
Al-Barnawi was also said to have been trained for years by ISIS before he was selected.
He sustained vicious attacks especially on military facilities and troops in the Lake Chad region, while at the same time strategising on how to subdue Shekau.
He controlled large territory in northern Borno, imposed taxes on the local population and earned income from fishing asides from the financial and material support he received from ISIS.
Al-Barnawi’s fighters had also destroyed many military super camps in Dikwa, Monguno, Abadam and Marte in Borno; and other military facilities around Geidam in Yobe State.
He also established many cells on the Lake Chad islands and surrounding villages, from where his fighters launched attacks on Nigeria, Niger and Chad.
His death, which has not been confirmed by the Nigerian government, comes three months after the death of Shekau, who was said to have blown himself up instead of surrendering to the ISWAP faction.
Newsbreak.ng is a publication of Platinum Crest Communications Limited. We are a broad-spectrum source of credible, useful and timely news, features and opinions, especially as they affect Nigerians at home and in the diaspora.