Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Lands
|Participant in the Nigerian Sharia conflict|
Motto: “Jihad Fi Sabilillah”
(English: "Struggle for the cause of Allah")
|Leaders||Mamman Nur (Abu Usmatul al-Ansari)
Abu Jafa’ar – spokesman
|Originated as||Boko Haram|
|Allies||Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
|Nigerian Sharia conflict|
Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Lands (جماعة أنصار المسلمين في بلاد السودان Jamāʿatu Anṣāril Muslimīna fī Bilādis Sūdān), better known as Ansaru is an Islamist jihadist militant organisation based in the northeast of Nigeria. It is an offshoot of the larger Boko Haram organisation, founded in January 2012, and reportedly has more of an international focus than the latter.
In the group's first statement, released on the Internet in January 2012, its leader, Abu Usmatul al-Ansari (sometimes written 'Abu Ussamata al-Ansary'). described Boko Haram actions as "inhuman to the Muslim Ummah". Ansari also praised the Sokoto Caliphate and its founder, Usman dan Fodio. In another Internet video released by the group in June 2012, al-Ansari claimed that the group would not kill innocent non-Muslims or security officials, except in "self defense" and that the group would defend the interests of Islam and Muslims not just in Nigeria but the whole of Africa. Unlike Boko Haram, which is based around Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, Ansaru operates in and around Kano State in north-central Nigeria, the heartland of the Hausa-Fulani peoples.
The group reportedly coordinates its operations with the northern Mali-based al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa. Ansaru is designated as a proscribed terrorist organization by New Zealand and the UK Home Office.
Several of Ansaru’s commanders have been reported as returning to Boko Haram over 2013.
Attacks on westerners
Attacks that Ansaru has claimed responsibility for include a prison break at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad headquarters in Abuja in November 2012, a January 2013 attack on a convoy of Nigerian troops on their way to participate in the conflict against Jihadist groups in Northern Mali and a 23 May 2013 attack on a French-owned uranium mine in Niger in cooperation with Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
The group has carried out a number of kidnappings in Nigeria, including the May 2012 abductions of a Briton and an Italian from Kebbi State, the December 2012 kidnapping of a French engineer, Francis Collomp, in Katsina State and the February 2013 kidnapping of seven foreigners from a construction site in Bauchi State. Ansaru executed the hostages taken in both May 2012 and February 2013 following what is said were failed rescue attempts by the British and Nigerian governments. The group also kidnapped a French priest in Northern Cameroon in December 2013. In 2014, the group has also kidnapped Canadians.
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- Chothia, Farouk (19 February 2013). "Profile: Who are Nigeria's Ansaru Islamists?". BBC News.
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- List of Proscribed Terrorist Groups Home Office of the British government[dead link]
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- "Islamist group says executes seven foreign hostages, Nigeria doubts report". Reuters. 9 March 2013.
- "French priest kidnapped in Cameroon set free: French government". Reuters. 31 December 2013.
- Onuoha, Freedon. "Jama'atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladis Sudan: Nigeria’s Evolving Militant Group". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 4 May 2013.