Sunday, September 4, 2011

Who is the UN bomber?

1 September 2011

Mamman Nur, identified on Wednesday as the al-Qaeda-linked mastermind of last week's attack on UN headquarters in Nigeria, has long been seen as a high-ranking member of Islamist sect Boko Haram.

Believed to be around 35 years old, Nur was considered third-in-command of Boko Haram when it launched an uprising in northern Nigeria in 2009 put down by a brutal military assault which left hundreds dead.

Its second-in-command was Abubakar Shekau, believed to be its current leader. Its head at the time of the uprising, Mohammed Yusuf, was captured during the assault but later killed when police said he was trying to escape.

According to sources claiming to have been sect members as well as those familiar with the group, Nur took over temporarily as leader while Shekau recovered from gunshot wounds suffered during the uprising.

Nur is thought to have left Nigeria for Chad along with several other sect members to escape arrest by security agents.

From Chad, he is believed to have moved to Somalia along with some close allies, according to the sources, before returning to Nigeria several weeks ago at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadaan.

Rumours have spread that there has been a power struggle between Nur and Shekau, with Nur and his faction of loyalists contending he was more competent to lead the sect given his exposure to Somali training and contacts.

Nigerian authorities have not confirmed details of the claims surrounding Nur, saying only that he was “a notorious Boko Haram element with al-Qaeda links who returned recently from Somalia.”

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