His physique could hardly fit into the temperament of his persuasion. He is frail, he talks slowly and you would have no qualms passing him off as one naïve, harmless young man. But all that is a façade. Beneath it nestles a motivated terror. Nasir Isiaku, 27, has zealous hatred for Christians. Hear him: “If we asked our victim, ‘Will you become a Muslim or not and he or she refuses, we will slaughter him like a goat…” He talked of himself as an Islamic warrior who delights in chopping off people’s head with a stroke of his dagger.
However, all of that was, according to him, up until he made a turnaround in a most dramatic way. Nasir Isiaku is from Gusau in Zamfara State. He said while still in the group, he killed many Christians when he reigned as second-in-command to a terrorist group that wages war against non-Muslims in northern Nigeria. The group, Shitte, is a Boko Haram franchise. “Our own group is called Shitte but we have the same agenda with the Boko Haram sect. You people have only been hearing of Boko Haram, but there are other deadly Islamic groups who are also part of Boko Haram sect,” he said, adding: “Whenever we heard that any of the sects was fighting Christians, we always joined them,”
He was speaking to a gathering of Christians recently of his activities as a member of the terror group. He also told of how he renounced what he called “the cult” where he drank his victims’ blood so their ghosts would not appear to him in dreams.
This is Isiaku’s testimony as he told it himself. We have slightly edited it, so as to preserve its narrative purity. WOLE BALOGUN was there:
“I joined the Bafarawa Arabic Islamic Centre in 2010 and they were teaching us Arabic language. Every year, we take about 20 people to Iran for special training because our zonal headquarters is in Iran. Our own group is called Shitte but we have the same agenda with the Boko Haram sect. You people have only been hearing of Boko Haram, but there are other deadly Islamic groups that are also part of Boko Haram sect. I can count up to six of them that I’m very much aware of. Whenever we heard that any of the sects was fighting Christians, we always joined them. My own group has been an Islamic movement for a long time, even before I was born. It reigned in the north during the Abacha military regime and it has many branches in the north. We are in major northern states such as Kastina, Kaduna, Zamfara, Kano, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Zaria among others.
Sometimes, when we want to wreak havoc on Christians, we hire our own bus because we have our own weapons, which we use against the Christians. We usually join the Boko Haram sect whenever they wanted to fight the Christians or the soldiers because we usually hear that soldiers kill our Boko Haram brothers in Maiduguri, Yobe and Potiskum.
I used to be one of the most trusted hands in the group because I was a very obedient and loyal follower. I had my own secret office where I received delegates from our sponsors whenever our leader wasn’t around and where I attend to the needs of any of our members.
This is why I didn’t participate in many of our attacks against the Christians or the soldiers because I used to take care of the home front. Our leaders usually psyched us up, they brainwashed us to fight against Christians because they are enemies of Allah. They taught us that the more Christians we were able to kill, the more our chances of entering Alijonan(heaven).
Many of our trainings hold in the night, around 10pm. There is a bush around the school where we usually go for trainings.
Some aspects of the training we receive are not ordinary; we used to drink what one could call spiritual water because it is not ordinary water. We also used to receive strange visitors who were not equally ordinary humans. We receive the visitors in a strange way, our leaders used to summon them: they used to instruct us to recite some passages in the Quran and whenever we do that, the visitors would appear to us during those unholy hours. They could come in three or four. They appeared like humans but they are not humans. We know they are not humans. They usually fortify us with charms for the task before us. They used to instruct us to be strong and fight.
Our leaders also used to render a lot of assistance to support our cause. They bring a lot of money in a pick up van and asked us to use the money to buy guns. Many of our supplies come from the zonal headquarters and sometimes, there is a popular Bayelsa man who is, though a Christian, supporting our cause in cash and kind. I can’t remember his name now. The Bayelsa man gave us money and also supplied us with weapons for the mission.
I am the second in command in my camp in our group, and whenever our president travels to the headquarters in Iran, I used to coordinate the group and receive our sponsors on his behalf. This is why I am able to sit with the sponsors and know what happens.
We had vowed to first kill all Christians in Kaduna before dealing with others in the north. Whenever we take the spiritual water, we become more daring to do any evil. It makes us more dangerous and if we were annoyed at such moment, we could kill. The water also fortifies us against gunshots. When we have taken it, bullets will not harm us. Also, we get mystery ring from our leaders. About eight of us were selected for the ring, and that ring provides almost anything we asked from it. It is like a personal power for us.
I can’t recall the number of people I have killed. I don’t use gun most times. We usually use guns to shoot people on the leg. If we ask a victim: “Will you become a Muslim or not? And he or she refuses, we slaughter the victim like a goat. And after killing the victim, we collect his or her blood in a very small cup and then drink it. After drinking the blood, the victim’s ghost could not hunt us in dreams. That is what our leaders told us. And indeed, once we taste the blood of people we kill, we will not see them in our dreams.
Sometimes, when we don’t feel like drinking the blood from the cup, we used our fingers to touch the victim’s blood and taste it. It will still prevent ghost of victim from hunting us in dreams.
We used to kill Christians because we believe that by killing them, we will enter heaven at death. Our leaders used a Quranic passage that seems to support our action (Recites some Quranic lines). In interpretation, the passage says: “O you believers, you should not be friendly with your enemies.” ‘Believers’ here means we, the Muslims and ‘enemies’ are the Christians.
The leaders of our group and the sponsors are many. Our sponsors are wealthy Nigerians. They are in government, and many are past Nigerian leaders. If I mention their names, you would think I am just telling lies. We have governors, senators who sponsor us heavily. Our sponsors are many (Names mentioned are withheld). You wouldn’t believe some of them are really part of us. We usually invite them to the graduation of the students in the school. That is when many know them as part of us.
We have days we go to town to preach and win more members. On such days, we add a red cap to our white T-Shirt and trousers. On another occasion when we put on black caps, it means we won’t fight.
We have infiltrated the Nigerian forces. We have our members in the police and army. Those members help us a lot whenever we want to fight.
However, we are very secretive, my blood brother who was not a member didn’t know I was part of the sect. I kept my association with the sect secret from people close to me who don’t share our views about Christians. My father loved me very well.
Right from the time we attended Chachangi School, a lower school in my place, our Islamic instructors had been drumming it into our ears that we should tighten our belts to fight the Christians. They instructed us to always be armed, either with knife or gun. They even told us to have our own gun and get license for it.
My own area in Kaduna is Torumada, it is a haven for many Islamic terrorists in Nigeria. Before I joined the Shiite school, I took part in several fights in which we massacred many Christians. The Christians in Sokoto are most vulnerable to attacks from our people because they are just within our reach, but they have also been very lucky because a major Islamic cleric in the state is always pleading that we shouldn’t touch them.
We actually found out many places in Sokoto where Christians are living. One of them is Ota Road, but in order to respect our Islamic cleric, we haven’t touched them.
Boko Haram has their men trained in Afganistan. I don’t know if you have been hearing about the Taliban, those who sacrifice their lives through suicide bombing. The Talibans are the ones who are training Boko Haram men. I know Boko Haram usually have about 60 men who go for training in Afganistan. They train them on how to go on suicide bombing, make their own bombs and fight and do other dangerous things. They also provide them with sophisticated weapons such as bombs and all that.
Since I gave my life to Christ, I have been getting several attacks from the cult. There was a Thursday evening in Sokoto, I was supposed to go to vigil with a roommate named brother Matthew. He asked me to go with him but I declined, saying I was tired. When it was well into the night, I suddenly heard a loud, disturbing knock on the door. The voice that called out to me resembled that of brother Matthew. It said that I should open the door. The man actually spoke in Hausa, asking me to open up for him, but something pulled me back. My heart pounded and I suddenly realized it could be an impostor coming to attack me. But then, I couldn’t pray, all I could only mutter was Holy Ghost fire! I said this repeatedly till the stranger disappeared. And then I heard the barking of a dog from somewhere in the neighourhood.
Eventually, when the real Matthew came from church and asked for the door to be opened, I became hysterical with him. I demanded his explanations for the earlier visit but he said it wasn’t him. Initially I didn’t believe him. It took the explanation of another brother who confirmed that he was actually in the church all through the night for me to let things be. I could have killed him.
Before the attack, I had been keeping indoors. I couldn’t go out just anyhow because I knew members of the group would be looking for me.
So, after that incident, my pastor decided to take me to his village, away from the area where everyone knew me.
It is only God that can stop the war Boko Haram and other Islamic religious sects have started against the Christians in Nigeria. I thank God that I am out and now a Christian. The frank advice I can offer to all Christians is that they should start securing their own weapons, tighten their belts and prepare for war. The terrorist sects are prepared for war already. I am just looking at all Christians in Nigeria as dead people because of the level of preparations the sects have made.
It was on March 6, that I had a strange encounter that turned me into a completely different person. We usually go for our preaching on Fridays and Saturdays. I had just returned from one of such outings in Bodinga Local Government Area of Sokoto State, it was around 3pm. I was about to start taking ablution for the evening prayers when it happened. A man in pure, resplendent white attire just appeared to me. And once I saw him I was scared and dropped the small keg of water and ran off to my office. My people were asking me and I told them that I saw a man in white but they said they didn’t see anybody and even when I went back to the spot where I had seen the man, he was no longer there.
Then that night when I slept, the strange man in white came to me again. He was holding a stick and then I was frightened and I shouted and woke up with a start. My people rushed to me and said I was having a nightmare. Our leader said that the man in white must be an evil one. They took me to a powerful Mallam in Gombe who did some prayers for me to ward off the evil man in white. After the prayers, the Mallam assured me that nothing would happen to me and I returned to our base. But then when I slept again the following night, the same man in white appeared to me again and this time, he spoke to me. He said: “God has chosen you”. He said that three times and I again woke up with a start and that again alarmed my people. But when they asked what happened to me, I lied to them that there was nothing.
When it was morning, I took my bathe and deliberately went to see a barber friend who is a Christian. After he had finished cutting my hair, I opened up to him. I told him about my encounter with the strange old man in white and he said that the man must be God reaching out to me. I asked him why God would want to reach out to me. He then asked me if I was ready to give my life to Christ and serve God and immediately I said yes. I was even surprised at the way I simply took it.
Since I started fellowshipping with the church, I have become a different being. The experience was like I had a thorough bathe, which washed off all impurities like diseases and all that. Before the experience, I used to walk around like one afflicted with insanity, but now, I am more relaxed and composed. I now take time to take care of myself and even have inner peace. I used to live on drugs but now, I don’t take drugs any longer. I feel healthy.
It is not easy to quite the brotherhood because we undergo terrible and diabolic initiation process that hardened us. It is only by God’s touch that anyone one could renounce the group. When I was still there a certain high profile member of the Boko Haram sect, named Shuaib, renounced the group. I was part of many others who personally swore that we would ensure that we skin Shuaib alive if we see him anywhere.
But I want to tell my colleagues who are still in it to have a change of heart. I now realize that killing Christians would not take me to heaven; instead, it will take me to hell. And I’m ready to live a good life as a Christian.”