According to TheCable, the name of the Boko Haram commander killed in Konduga, Borno State, by Nigerian soldiers last week is Isa Damsaka, which was disclosed by security sources. He also went by two other names ─ Bashir Konduga and Bashir Mohammed ─ as Boko Haram commanders use various names, the official explained.
Damsaka was the man seen in Boko Haram videos posing as “Abubakar Shekau” since 2013, one of the sources further said. Not much is known about Damsaka, who was thought to be a Kanuri and was also said to be very fluent in Arabic and Hausa languages, with a little understanding of English.
Shekau announced in 2009 that he had taken over leadership of Boko Haram after the death of the founder, Mohammed Yusuf. But he had been reported killed on two previous occasions, the first being that he died in the Maiduguri uprising of August 2009 and the second in 2013 after a military raid on Sambisa forest.
But videos emerged each time debunking the reports. According to a security source, “The real Shekau was killed on or about 19 June 2013 as the Nigerian government was concluding a peace deal with Boko Haram. He died in the Sambisa forest as a result of gunshot wounds he received in an encounter with the JTF.” He had been injured but was taken for treatment by his lieutenants to Amitchide, on the border with Cameroon, and he did not survive, the source said. However, the official added, the surviving commanders later regrouped and appointed Damsaka to continue to pose as Shekau in the propaganda videos. “Boko Haram leaders have been using him for quite some time to make their propaganda videos. The script is written for him by another commander which he then reads as he delivers his message on-camera,” the official said.
The “real” Shekau was said to speak a little more English than his impersonator and was more composed as well. “You would notice that Damsaka was not always coherent and was more dramatic in his video outings, sometimes appearing to be mentally deranged,” he said. When rumours started doing the round in 2013 that Shekau was dead, a video was released in September of that year with a man claiming to be Shekau mocking the Nigerian government for pronouncing him dead.