Ansaru


Organisation

Ansaru

Ansaru is a Nigerian radical group, with a base in Kano and Kaduna. Its full name in English means "Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa." Its leadership is obscure; Abu Usama al Answari is frequently identified as its leader but little other than his name is known. Its spokesmen claim the group split from Boko Haram because of the latter's frequent killing of Muslims.

Ansaru avoids Muslim casualties and actively attacks Christian churches. It appears to try to provoke a Christian backlash against Muslim minorities in the south, presumably to promote the break-up of the Nigerian state. Thus far, that effort has been unsuccessful.

Ansaru has introduced into northern Nigeria tactics more commonly associated with the Sahel, especially kidnapping for ransom and, possibly, the use of suicide bombers, which were previously unknown in West Africa. It also is involved with trans-Saharan smuggling. The group has links with radical Islamist groups in Algeria and Mali, but it is unlikely that it takes direction from them. However, its fighters include some from outside Nigeria, especially Chad and Niger. There is some evidence of tactical cooperation between Ansaru and Boko Haram, and it is possible that they will re-unite.

John Campbell, Council on Foreign Relations, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies