Dissidents Arising: ISWAP Faces Difficult Times Ahead

While most of the old guard Yusufis left within the  current Islamic State’s West African Province are believers in the promise of a glorious khilafah(caliphate) and another Islamic Golden Age once the kufar(infidels) and toghut(idols, takfiri speak for all non khilafah Muslim rulers and regimes) are wiped out from Muslim lands, as promised by Khalifah Ibrahim aka Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, a few are said to be murmuring at the way things are going for their own local jihad right now.

At first it was resolved that core assets had to be withdrawn from the battlefields to protect them from the offensives by the regional militaries that soon followed, while peripheral assets/replaceable assets were thrown to the wolves so to speak. Then came the orders from above directing that Libyans and other kind of Arabs replace local veterans, while instead of local veterans being promoted upstairs as one would assume, they were either sidelined or sent to Libya for retraining.

With new commanders taking over the lifeblood units (intelligence, security, fundraising) and territories either being lost or abandoned, the new Islamic State West Africa has been left in a vulnerable position, and this has produced a bitter taste in the mouth of certain persons. Plus the general assessment of  the capabilities of Shekau’s forces by the Libyans and Syrians has not helped matters.

It is said that Ar-Raqqah feels that for ISWA to become a fulll fledged operational province, able to take on head to head the Nigerian and allied miltaries, it would take at least two years of training, during which they and their Libyan underlings would have to aggressively impact the skills they picked up from fighting the Americans, their coalition allies in Iraq, the Syrian Arab Army and their Iranian and Hizbullah allies, on the West Africans. This amount of time plus a massive investment in matériel and dollars, is what they figure they need, and they communicated as such to the locals. To this end they have ordered local core units to head north to Libya to receive training, while a skeletal operations force drawn from those not ordered to Libya, will remain, so as to maintain a continuous local presence.
However, The complaining locals do not quite see reason why they should cease from jihad albeit temporarily, and they feel that not only are the Syrians and Libyans putting them down despite their proven record in battle against the Nigerian Army, they have also not made West Africa as much of a priority as say, Sinai or Libya.

Ar-Raqqah has noted the complaints arising and already purges have begun within West Africa. Babagana Umar and Tukur Waziri, two of the ring leaders of the complainants are said to have been detained in Libya, where they went to attend a meeting called by Islamic State’s Libyan commanders to settle the issues being complained about. The order to detain them is said to have come from Ar-Raqqah, and so far this action taken in Libya has not sat well with their supporters back home, with some of them even going as far as threatening to move away from the Islamic State if they are not released to come back home. A key target of the anger of these complainant veterans, is Abubakar Shekau. They complain that his seeking allegiance to Islamic State has resulted in nothing but set back for the jihad, and was done to enhance his personal stature at the expense of gains they were making. Some have said that while last year they were in talks with other factions on how to seize Maiduguri, now they are in the bush again, as far from Maiduguri as they have ever been in their lives.

While there is indeed a lot of anger and resentment in the air, this is due to what the veterans feel are declining fortunes. I do not think that any longterm split will occur in Islamic State West Africa, if the Islamic State leadership exhibits understanding of the cries of the West Africans, and proves to be flexible on its current strategic directives to the locals. But for example, should a purge of those complaining and those vocal about the silent complaints of the veterans be instituted by the Islamic State leadership, or should these complains be brushed aside as irrelevant, then expect a mass exodus of many of these veterans and their supporters from the Islamic State, and into the waiting arms of Muhammad Daud(if he still alive then, as Islamic State is said to be actively seeking to kill him).

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