Mother to Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has come out to confess for the first time, how his son, now Boko Haram leader became a highly sort after terrorist.
Falmata Abubakar starts by saying she has not set her eyes on her son for 15 years, practically since he was a boy. In 2009, Nigerian security agents killed Mohammed Yusuf, and Abubakar Shekau became the leader of Boko Haram.
The languishing mother says her son left Shekau as a boy to continue his Islamic education in the city of Maiduguri. Maiduguri has been a center of religious studies for hundreds of years.
Abubakar Shekau was an almajiri. In the generations-old tradition, almajirai are sent by their parents to study the Quran, Islam’s holy book, in schools locally known as a tsangaya. In the classroom, a teacher trains the 20 or more, sometimes hundreds of, male students at a time to memorize the complete Quran.
Almajirai often go up and down the streets, asking people for food. It is thought that Abubakar Shekau did the same. His mother says that during his studies he met Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram. Yusuf believed that a Western education violates religious law. Falmata says her son was brainwashed.
“Since Shekau met with Mohammed Yusuf, I didn’t see him again,” she told VOA. “Yes, he’s my son and every mother loves her son, but we have different characters. He brought a lot of problem to many people. Where can I meet him to tell him that these things he is doing is very bad? He brought many problems to many people, but I am praying for God to show him the good way,” she said.
Towns people say they often deny being from the hometown of Abubakar Shekau because others may believe they have ties to Boko Haram.
Falmata Abubakar says her son has become someone she doesn’t recognize. “He just took his own character and went away. This is not the character I gave him. I don’t know what this type of behavior is. It’s only God who knows.”