The command and control location where Boko Haram/JAS leader conducts jihadists operations and religious sermons during the day has been revealed. The alleged location was given as “Sabil-Huda” (an enclave located deep in Sambisa Forest). However sources said that the place is known within the jihadists circle only as “Farisu.” The insurgents led by Abubakar Shekau, other senior commanders and members of the Shura council usually converge in the highly fortified ‘Farisu’ camp to observe Friday Jummat prayers at an approximate local time of 12:30pm and 1:00pm. Other nearby active camps in ‘Farisu’ which host thousands of jihadist fighters, abducted women and children include Garin Kago, Garin Maluma, Daurul Tauhid and Tokombare, etc.
Many of the active Boko Haram camps in ‘Farisu’ have been bombarded by the Nigerian Army artillery and Nigerian Air Force bombs several times but because of the strategic position, the insurgents always find a safe haven in ‘Farisu’ to conduct their activities. Sabil-Huda or ‘Farisu’ also serves as a jihadists market for the sales of basic items such as telephone cards, charging of phones and provision stores.
The bloodthirsty jihadist leader is known to command and control about 25 Boko Haram jihadist camps headed by unit commanders within remote locations in the deep and marshy Sambisa Forest. Sources with knowledge of these camps say each Boko Haram camp is likely to contain approximately 1000 fighters. A number that has been significantly diminished by ongoing precision aerial strikes from the Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Army under the auspices of Operation LAFIYA DOLE and the Multi- National Joint Task Force (MNJTF). It is impossible to verify the actual number of Boko Haram fighters in these mostly remote camps given Jihadist commanders have been notorious for inflating the number of unit fighters managed within their camps to claim for operational ‘expenses’, other essential resources from their sponsors and for propaganda.
Sources further revealed that the permanent hiding place of Abubakar Shekau is a protected location within the thick and rocky forest of Firgi. Shekau relocated to Firgi forest after the Nigerian Army under leadership of Lt.Gen. Yusufu Tukur Buratai – ‘Operation LAFIYA DOLE’ overran Shekau’s hideout in Sambisa forest in December 2016 and again as recently as March 2020.
The erratic and bloodthirsty leader is protected by 10 loyal special fighters. He retains possession of about 40 Toyota Hilux mounted with Anti-Aircraft guns, 2 Armoured tanks and 2 APCs, all carefully concealed under the thickness of the Firgi forest. His selected location provides absolute camouflage from the aerial radar of the Nigerian Air Force reconnaissance. Shekau sleeps in refurbished deep natural tunnels protected by heavy rocks with mines planted at vulnerable locations. His final location is only accessible by foot and only a selected handful of his bodyguards are allowed to enter his last dungeon.
Abubakar Shekau is an example of the proverbial cat with nine lives and remains the most wanted Boko Haram leader by the Nigerian Army, regional and international states. No doubt, he will be replaced by another leader when he dies or killed. The Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu remain the most searched for girls in the history of terrorist mass kidnap. As far as a long term and sustainable Counter insurgency (COIN) strategy is concerned, the focus of the Nigerian government and regional MNJTF should be on releasing and rescuing all captives while ensuring that current battlefield ground and aerial efforts are not undermined from within and without.
- David Otto, CMAS – Global Counter Terrorism & Organized Crime Expert and Founder of the conflict resolution programme – Step-In Step-Out (SISO) UK. Twitter: @ottotgs – News Express