Terrorism & Insurgency

Re-emergence of Ansaru in northern Nigeria raises threat of targeted violence against Western nationals and companies

23 January 2020

Key Points

  • Following a six-year operational lull, militant Islamist group Ansaru claimed responsibility for a small-arms attack in Kaduna State, Nigeria.
  • In October 2019, the group already indicated its active status and impending return to armed activities when announcing the launch of its new media outlet, Al-Yaqut Media.
  • While it is unclear if the group has the capabilities to initiate a sustained military campaign, Ansaru's re-emergence likely poses a significant threat to Western interests in Nigeria and a challenge to the already-overstretched Nigerian security forces.

Jamaatu Ansarul Muslimina fi Biladis Sudan, better known as simply Ansaru, a long-dormant Al-Qaeda-aligned militant Islamist group based in northern Nigeria, issued a statement on 17 January claiming responsibility for a small-arms ambush along the Kaduna-Zaria Highway in north-central Kaduna State on 14 January, in which seven people were killed and four seriously wounded by gunmen dressed in military uniforms.

Among those killed were four aides to the Emir of Potiskum, Alhaji Umaru Bubaram Ibn Wuriwa Bauya, a traditional leader from Nigeria's northern Yobe State, whose convoy of vehicles and its military escort was the apparent focus of the attack. However, the Ansaru statement, which was released via Al-Qaeda's Al-Hijrah Media, did not reference the emir - who escaped unhurt - stating simply that the attack had targeted "a Nigerian army convoy". The statement also made no mention of hostages, despite local media reports claiming that an unspecified number of people had been abducted during the two-hour engagement.

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