Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina fi Biladis Sudan (“Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa”), more commonly known as Ansaru, is an Islamist militant splinter group of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Founded in early 2012, Ansaru’s membership distanced itself from Boko Haram because of ideological differences in the interpretation of Islamic law. Ansaru seeks the re-establishment of a Muslim state similar to the historical Sokoto Caliphate founded by Usman dan Fodio in the 19th century. While the group has not been responsible for a large number of attacks, its operations reach beyond Nigeria's borders. Ansaru could also extend al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's network further south, for example into Cameroon.
Unlike Boko Haram, Ansaru believes that the killing of fellow Muslims is a “sin,” “inexcusable,” and “inhuman;” their primary reason for leaving Boko Haram. In his YouTube appearances, Khalid al Barnawi stated that the Ansaru members would never kill innocent non-Muslim civilians or non-Muslim security and police forces, unless in cases of self defense. Al Barnawi also expressed that the perceived inability of the Nigerian government to protect its Muslim citizens from becoming victims of religious violence was another important motivator in the creation of Ansaru.
Ansaru is closely tied to several militant and jihadist groups through its leader, Khalid al Barnawi. Al Barnawi’s alias Abu Ussamata al Ansary former senior Boko Haram commander in Northern Nigeria; the center of Ansaru’s operations was previously a member of AQIM where he trained militants in kidnapping tactics in Algeria. Al Barnawi was reportedly coached by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, then a senior AQIM commander now leader of Signers in Blood Battalion and Mourabitounes, on methods to effectively target foreign citizens and companies in Nigerian to expand AQIM’s influence.
Ansaru’s militants may have also been directly trained by AQIM members, according to the account of one Ansaru member who states he trained directly under the supervision of Senior AQIM commander Abdelhamid Abou Zeid at AQIM camps in Algeria and Mauritania. Although Boko Haram and Ansaru are now separate groups, one member of Ansaru stated that the two organizations actively work together.
New Ansaru members are actively recruited through Islamic colleges and universities in Sudan and Nigeria, and trained in AQIM run camps in Algeria and Mauritania, according to one Ansaru member. Training for new members is intense, that in one case, two out of a group of five students died during a six month training camp administered by AQIM.
Areas of Operation
Nigeria: Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Kogi, and Bauchi States
Ansaru's attacks have consisted of raids by gunmen against hardened targets. A platoon-sized element typically assaults the compound where hostages will be abducted, or prisoners freed, before withdrawing. Explosives have not been used in Ansaru raids, except to breach barriers. Such attacks require different capabilities and preparations than Boko Haram's suicide bombings do.
Video: 2013 JAMBS released a video to prove that seven construction workers abducted in Bauchi had been assassinated by the group. The group accompanied the above video video with a statement claiming that the British and the Nigerian government had tried to rescue the hostages. The British government denies the allegation claiming its planes spotted Nigeria were only engaging in transportation of Nigerian troops to Mali. Seven foreign construction workers from the UK, Lebanon, Greece and Italy were kidnapped on February 16th 2013 from a construction site in Bauchi state.
Video: 2012 Jama'at Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Introduces itself via You Tube propaganda video.
Video: 2013 News report with photo montage of Ansaru members and hostages.
Video: On December 19, 2012, approximately 30 Ansaru militants attacked the compound of a French corporation in Rimi, Katsina State and kidnapped Francis Colump, a French engineer. Ansaru released statements that blamed France for precipitating the attack by banning Muslim citizens from wearing veils in public, and for planning military intervention in the escalating crisis in Mali. Ansaru threatened to continue its attacks against French citizens unless France ended the public ban on veils.