Khalid al-Barnawi

Khalid al-Barnawi is the captured leader of Boko Haram’s dissident splinter group, Ansaru. Nigerian authorities arrested al-Barnawi in Lokoja, Koji state, in early April 2016.“Khalid al-Barnawi: Nigeria Islamist group head 'arrested',” BBC News, April 3, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-35956301.

Despite disagreements between Boko Haram and Ansaru, the two groups cooperate on various attacks, which enabled al-Barnawi to maintain leadership positions in both groups. Like other Ansaru leaders, al-Barnawi historically refused to show his face or issue individual statements.Jacob Zenn, “Leadership Analysis of Boko Haram and Ansaru in Nigeria,” Combatting Terrorism Center, February 24, 2014, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/leadership-analysis-of-boko-haram-and-ansaru-in-nigeria.

According to the Combatting Terrorism Center, al-Barnawi has been “uniquely capable” of strengthening Boko Haram’s ties with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Shabab, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), and the al-Qaeda core. He has carried out kidnappings for numerous jihadist groups, and was reportedly “willing” to carry out kidnappings for Ansaru, Boko Haram, MUJWA, AQIM, or any other jihadist group, “regardless of ideology.” Since Ansaru’s creation in early 2012, al-Barnawi allegedly “drifted” from Ansaru to Boko Haram in favor of for-profit kidnappings.Jacob Zenn, “Leadership Analysis of Boko Haram and Ansaru in Nigeria,” Combatting Terrorism Center, February 24, 2014, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/leadership-analysis-of-boko-haram-and-ansaru-in-nigeria.

 

Al-Barnawi trained with AQIM in Algeria in the mid-2000s,Jacob Zenn, “Ansaru, a Profile of Nigeria’s Newest Jihadist Movement,” Jamestown Foundation, January 10, 2013, http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=40287&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=621#.VO9Gy7PF8zA. where he may have developed internationalist Islamist ideologies.“A Brief Look at Ansaru’s Khalid al-Barnawi- AQIM’s Bridge Into Northern Nigeria,” Jametown Foundation Militant Leadership Monitor, March 27, 2013, http://mlm.jamestown.org/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=40648&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=686#.VO9PhrPF8zA. He therefore may be only marginally committed to Boko Haram’s goal of an Islamic State in Nigeria, and more interested in attacking international targets.“A Brief Look at Ansaru’s Khalid al-Barnawi- AQIM’s Bridge Into Northern Nigeria,” Jametown Foundation Militant Leadership Monitor, March 27, 2013, http://mlm.jamestown.org/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=40648&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=686#.VO9PhrPF8zA.

The U.S. Department of State designated al-Barnawi a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224 on June 21, 2012.“Terrorist Designations of Boko Haram Commander Abubakar Shekau, Khalid al-Barnawi and Abubakar Adam Kambar,” U.S. Department of State, June 21, 2012, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/06/193574.htm.

 
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