Boko Haram
One faction is loyal to Abubakar Shekau, left, and the other to Abu Musab al-Barnawi, right, who was appointed by Islamic State Youtube

Nigeria-based Boko Haram terror group has split into two factions, one loyal to Abubakar Shekau and the other to Abu Musab al-Barnawi, appointed by Boko Haram's ally, the Islamic State (Isis/Daesh). Shekau became Boko Haram leader in 2009, when the then leader Mohammed Yusuf died while in police custody.

In 2015, rumours started spreading that Shekau had been killed or replaced after he failed to make a verified video appeareance for the past year.

Al-Barnawi, believed to be the only surviving son of the late Yusuf, was Boko Haram's spokesperson.

Following the new appointment, Shekau , released an audio message in Arabic and Hausa accusing al-Barnawi of trying to stage a coup against him.

"We could witness the fall of one brutal leader and the rise of one whose temperament is virtually unknown and untested," Otto, CEO of global security provider TGS Intelligence Consultants, told IBTimes UK.

"Yusuf was charismatic and strategic. He was not as brutal as his successor Shekau. If his son took his complete DNA, then we could see a reduction of attacks and certain soft targets, like places of worship, reduce significantly.

"However, if Abu Musab follows the footsteps of his master Shekau, he may lead an organisation that will be ready to launch more daring attacks with a focus on targeting the west and its interests inside and outside West Africa."

Differences between the two leaders

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Note: This article was corrected on 12 August to remove reference to Abu Musab al-Barnawi having defected from Boko Haram.