Mamman Nur

Mamman Nur was a key member of Boko Haram who went on to lead a faction that was endorsed by ISIS in 2016.Idayat Hassan, “The danger of a better-behaved Boko Haram,” IRIN, August 21, 2018, https://www.irinnews.org/opinion/2018/08/21/opinion-nigeria-militancy-peace-boko-haram. On August 21, 2018—shortly after Nur released 104 of the 110 Dapchi schoolgirls abducted in February 2018 without demanding ransom—Nur was reportedly killed by subordinates who disagreed with his “soft” approach to the group’s operations.Ehichioya Ezomon, “Dapchi girls and ransom payment: So what?,” The Oracle,  August 24, 2018, https://oraclenews.ng/dapchi-girls-and-ransom-payment-so-what/; “Boko Haram Leader Mamman Nur ‘Killed By His Closest Lieutenants’ For Releasing Dapchi Girls,” Sahara Reporters, September 14, 2018, http://saharareporters.com/2018/09/14/boko-haram-leader-mamman-nur-killed-his-closest-lieutenants-releasing-dapchi-girls. Nur is believed to have masterminded the August 2011 suicide bombing that killed 21 people at the United Nations headquarters in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.Senan Murray and Adam Nossiter, “Suicide Bomber Attacks U.N. Building in Nigeria,” The New York Times, August 26, 2011, https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/27/world/africa/27nigeria.html; Jacob Zenn, “Leadership Analysis of Boko Haram and Ansaru in Nigeria,” Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point, February 24, 2014, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/leadership-analysis-of-boko-haram-and-ansaru-in-nigeria. Nur was designated as a terrorist by the U.S. Treasury under Executive Order 13224 on December 1, 2015.“Treasury Sanctions Senior Boko Haram Leaders,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 1, 2015, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0290.aspx.

Nur allegedly introduced Boko Haram’s current leader, Abubakar Shekau, to the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, in Borno State, Nigeria.“Nigeria's Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in profile,” BBC News, May 9, 2014, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18020349. Under Yusuf’s leadership, Nur reportedly wielded significant influence as Boko Haram’s third in command.Jacob Zenn, “Leadership Analysis of Boko Haram and Ansaru in Nigeria,” Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point, February 24, 2014, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/leadership-analysis-of-boko-haram-and-ansaru-in-nigeria. In 2009, during a large-scale crackdown on the group by Nigerian security forces, Yusuf was killed and Shekau, who had been named as Yusuf’s replacement, was detained.Jacob Zenn, “Leadership Analysis of Boko Haram and Ansaru in Nigeria,” Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point, February 24, 2014, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/leadership-analysis-of-boko-haram-and-ansaru-in-nigeria. Nur allegedly served as the group’s temporary leader until Shekau was released from custody.Jacob Zenn, “Leadership Analysis of Boko Haram and Ansaru in Nigeria,” Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point, February 24, 2014, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/leadership-analysis-of-boko-haram-and-ansaru-in-nigeria.

According to a report published by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, Nur trained with AQIM and al-Shabab militants in East Africa.Jacob Zenn, “Leadership Analysis of Boko Haram and Ansaru in Nigeria,” Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point, February 24, 2014, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/leadership-analysis-of-boko-haram-and-ansaru-in-nigeria. After returning to Nigeria, Nur was allegedly involved in the planning of two suicide bombing attacks in Abuja: one at the Federal Police Headquarters on June 16, 2011 and the other at the U.N. headquarters in August 2011. The sophisticated execution of the bombings led Nigerian security officials to suspect that a transnational terrorist organization, such as AQIM, may have sponsored the attacks.Jacob Zenn, “Leadership Analysis of Boko Haram and Ansaru in Nigeria,” Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point, February 24, 2014, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/leadership-analysis-of-boko-haram-and-ansaru-in-nigeria.

In 2012, Nur and other Boko Haram members formed an AQIM-aligned splinter group called Ansaru.Ludovica Laccino, “Could Ansaru leader Mamman Nur be the man behind Boko Haram split?,” International Business Times, August 12, 2016, https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/could-ansaru-leader-mamman-nur-be-man-behind-boko-haram-split-1575565; Jacob Zenn, “Boko Haram’s Factional Feud,” Council on Foreign Relations, August 11, 2016, https://www.cfr.org/blog/boko-harams-factional-feud. Despite Ansaru’s condemnation of Shekau’s use of children in suicide bombings and targeting of Muslim civilians, the groups reportedly maintained close ties.Ludovica Laccino, “Could Ansaru leader Mamman Nur be the man behind Boko Haram split?,” International Business Times, August 12, 2016, https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/could-ansaru-leader-mamman-nur-be-man-behind-boko-haram-split-1575565. Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS under Shekau in 2015. The following year, however, Nur supported ISIS’s appointment of Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the leader of ISIS in West Africa.Jacob Zenn, “Boko Haram’s Factional Feud,” Council on Foreign Relations, August 11, 2016, https://www.cfr.org/blog/boko-harams-factional-feud. Like Nur, al-Barnawi allegedly disagrees with Shekau’s dictatorial leadership style and willingness to kill Muslim civilians.Omar Mahmood and Ndubuisi Christian Ani, “Factional Dynamics within Boko Haram,” Institute for Security Studies, July 2018, accessed September 18, 2018, https://issafrica.s3.amazonaws.com/site/uploads/2018-07-06-research-report-2.pdf; Max Siollun, “The Jihadi Too Violent for ISIS,” Foreign Policy, October 3, 2016, https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/10/03/the-jihadist-too-violent-for-isis-boko-haram-shekau/. Prior to his death, Nur was described as the “brain” behind al-Barnawi’s ISIS-endorsed Boko Haram faction.“Boko Haram Leader Mamman Nur ‘Killed By His Closest Lieutenants’ For Releasing Dapchi Girls,” Sahara Reporters, September 14, 2018, http://saharareporters.com/2018/09/14/boko-haram-leader-mamman-nur-killed-his-closest-lieutenants-releasing-dapchi-girls.

Also Known As

Extremist entity
Boko Haram
Type(s) of Organization:
Insurgent, territory-controlling, terrorist, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
ISIS-affiliated group, Islamist, jihadist, Salafist, takfiri
Position(s):
Key member of Boko Haram and Ansaru (deceased)

Boko Haram is an ISIS-aligned jihadist group based in Nigeria. For years, Boko Haram has been conducting a lethal jihadist insurgency in the country’s north to drive out government forces and establish an Islamic state.

  • Designations

United States

Nigeria

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On October 4, 2017, suspected ISIS fighters ambushed a military vehicle convoy outside the village of Tongo Tongo in Tillabéri, Niger. Five Nigeriens, four U.S. soldiers, and at least 21 militants were killed. The attack also left eight Nigeriens and two American troops wounded.   

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