30 Facts About Abubakar Shekau


Abu Mohammed Abubakar al-Sheikawi was a Kanuri terrorist who was the leader of Boko Haram, a Nigerian Islamist militant group.


Abubakar Shekau served as deputy leader to the group's founder, Mohammed Yusuf, until Yusuf was executed in 2009.


Nigerian authorities believed that Abubakar Shekau was killed in 2009 during clashes between security forces and Boko Haram until July 2010, when Abubakar Shekau appeared in a video claiming leadership of the group.


Abubakar Shekau has subsequently been regularly reported dead and was thought to use doubles.


In March 2015, Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.


Abubakar Shekau was a Salafi, until 2016, when he ended his relation to ISIL.


On 21 May 2021, an investigation by The Wall Street Journal, backed by recent reports by Nigerian officials, stated that Abubakar Shekau killed himself by detonating a suicide vest.

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Abubakar Shekau was born in Abubakar Shekau town, in Tarmuwa local government, Yobe State; his exact date of birth is unknown but is said to be between 1965 and 1975.


Abubakar Shekau was an ethnic Kanuri, and spoke Hausa, Fulani, Arabic, and English.


Abubakar Shekau was said to have had a photographic memory.


Abubakar Shekau left the college for ideological reasons and without earning a degree.


Abubakar Shekau later met Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Jamaat Ahlus Sunnah li Dawah wal Jihad, and became one of his deputies.


Abubakar Shekau was appointed the leader of the group in July 2009, after the death of Yusuf in the 2009 Boko Haram uprising.


Abubakar Shekau survived being shot in the leg during the 2009 attempt on his life by Nigerian security forces.


Abubakar Shekau was married to one of Muhammad Yusuf's four widows.


Abubakar Shekau received a letter from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb giving him advice but he did not heed it.


Abubakar Shekau was thought to have killed his own religious advisors, including Sheikh Abd al-Malek al-Ansari al-Kadunawi and Abu al-Abbas al-Bankiwani.


In videos Abubakar Shekau posted online, he boasted often about his invincibility; mocked various armies; and stated that he "cannot be stopped" and "cannot die except by the will of Allah".


Abubakar Shekau has boasted of being in possession of armoured tanks and other combat vehicles.


Abubakar Shekau announced that the kidnapped girls have been converted to Islam.


Abubakar Shekau has claimed to be waging a jihad against Christianity.


Abubakar Shekau refused to recognise Barnawi's authority and split off part of the group under its original name of Jamaat Ahlus Sunnah li Dawah wal Jihad, while Barnawi led the "Islamic State's West Africa Province".


Abubakar Shekau has been widely denounced as following the ideology of the Khawarij by the Islamic State and West Africa province in Nigeria.


Abubakar Shekau was reported killed in 2009 but reappeared as the group leader less than a year later.


However, a video in September 2013 was released in which a man purported to be Abubakar Shekau claimed he had not been killed.

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Chadian President Idriss Deby claimed in mid-August 2015 that Abubakar Shekau had been replaced by Mahamat Daoud without exactly specifying his fate.


An audio message attributed to Abubakar Shekau was released a few days later, in which he purportedly stated that he had neither been killed nor ousted as chief of the group.


Abubakar Shekau was reported to have been "fatally wounded" during an airstrike in Taye village on 19 August 2016 by Nigerian Air Force which killed some senior leaders of Boko Haram.


On 27 June 2017, Abubakar Shekau released a video in which he claimed responsibility for the abduction of Nigerian policewomen and criticized the Nigerian government for claiming that Boko Haram had been defeated.


In February 2020, Abubakar Shekau released a video threatening the minister of information and digital economy, Isa Ali Pantami, and making reference to what was done to Islamic scholar Ja'afar Mahmud Adam in Maiduguri when he preached against Boko Haram, Bulama Bukarti, explained why Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau threatened the Minister in an interview with the BBC.