Members of the deadly Ansaru terrorist organisation have begun mass recruitment of citizens in the Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, according to Daily Trust.
For years, Ansaru, a renegade gang of the notorious Boko Haram terrorists, has been operating in the Birnin Gwari communities.
Members of the gang had besieged the villages of Damari, Farin Ruwa, Kwasa Kwasa, Kuyello, Gobirawa, as well as Tabanni, Kutemeshi, and Kazage in a covert recruitment tactic disguised as Sallah celebrations.
According to villagers who spoke with our journalists, the terrorists offered Sallah gifts in the form of biscuits, performed motorbike acrobatics to the joy of the villagers, and distributed leaflets, flash discs, and other accessories on the group’s actions.
Birnin Gwari, in Kaduna Central Senatorial District, has been infiltrated by bandits, with the southern and eastern areas of the area suffering the most.
According to our sources, at least 30 bandits were killed in a brutal confrontation between members of the Ansaru gang and bandits in October 2021 near the Damari axis of the same LGA.
Multiple sources told Daily Trust that the conflict, which was a war for supremacy, took place three weeks after members of the terrorist group fled the military onslaught in Zamfara State and found refuge in Saulawa and Damari, where they erected their flags.
Terrorists thought to be members of the organisation attacked a military formation along the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari route on April 5, this year, killing 11 soldiers, four locals, and injuring many more.
Terrorists also detonated bombs in two armoured personnel carriers (APC) connected to security troops.
When contacted, Kaduna State Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, stated that the government was aware of the Ansaru threat after receiving an intelligence report.
He stated that the matter had been reported to the proper authorities.
Members of the Ansaru organisation are claimed to have distributed a five-page brochure headed; We are not Boko Haram but Ansaru, in an attempt to entice villagers to join their group.
The brochure was formatted as a series of questions and answers. “Our name is Jama’atul Ansaril Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan,” it said.
The booklet further claimed that the group’s objective is pure jihad, free of extremism, to exalt Allah’s words, and that its philosophy differs from that of other jihadist groups in that it is founded on the Sunnah of the Prophet and previous scholars. However, security experts who spoke with our correspondents denied the assertion, stating that the government, clergy, and traditional rulers must rise to the occasion to avert a replay of what happened in the North East.
They claimed that persons with severe religious proclivities are fond of employing sweet phrases to entice the naive into obedience before revealing their violent nature, which is contrary to Islamic doctrine.
“Whoever believes in Shahada and faces Qibla (the east) to pray is regarded a Muslim to us and hence ought to be safeguarded just as we would protect ourselves and our family members,” the group stated in the pamphlet. We will rejoice with him in times of joy and weep with him in times of sorrow. He is safe from our harm, and we will not hand him over to his foes.
“Planting bombs in marketplaces, mosques, and motor parks, among other areas, is not what we believe in because the bulk of deaths in these places are poor people.” We are not interested in materialism because if that was our goal, we would have stayed in our parents’ homes to enjoy the world. We are also not looking for positions or to support any political party, tribe, or other worldly entity.”
According to sources in the affected towns, the gang invaded many communities on motorbikes to rejoice and preach to inhabitants against participating in any celebration that violated Islamic precepts.
It was also learned that several naïve citizens welcomed the terror group as guardians or saviours against armed bandits terrorising their neighbourhoods. Musa Ibrahim, a member of one of the towns who confirmed the presence of the terror organisation, said they had joined locals on motorcycles before distributing biscuits to the community.
“They went to the Kuyello area, Tabanni, Kutemeshi, and my village, Kazage, to join the locals in celebrating Sallah.”
“They performed motorcycle stunts in the communities; no one was injured, and they warned against engaging in any unsafe play.” “They both lectured and distributed biscuits to the people,” he explained.
He stated that they were not troubled by the group’s activities and, in fact, embraced them as bandits’ saviours. “Bandits will not dare to attack our neighbourhoods in their presence,” he claimed.
Another Kuyello resident stated that the terrorists distributed flyers a day before Sallah, encouraging neighbours to join their group while wishing them a happy Eid-el-Fitr. He explained that the organisation was not known for attacking individuals, but rather for preaching Islam and protecting villagers from robbers.
“They appealed on people to join their group during preaching, telling us that they are not Boko Haram,” he added, adding that while they did not enter Kuyello town, they did preach in the nearby communities. Muhammadu Isa, a Kuyello native, said that many young people have indicated interest in joining the organisation, even if it is only for protection from robbers.
“There are some communities where Ansaru members allow locals to go to their farms and guard the inhabitants while they are there,” he explained.
Similarly, a local vigilante leader in Damari stated that because the government allegedly failed to protect the people, many residents opted to seek protection by joining the Ansaru group.
“We are weary of talking about one thing, and if joining the terror group is what will protect us from the bandits, I believe it is a risk our people are willing to accept,” he said.