According to his supporters, Yusuf was one of thousands of Almajiri children – religious students who beg on the streets for a living. But by the early 2000s he had found a place as a leader of the youth wing of a Salafist group at Maiduguri’s popular Alhaji Muhammadu Ndimi mosque.
“They promised me 200,000 naira,” he said, “but on the first trip they only paid me 70,000 and on the second trip they gave me only 40,000. I was never in favour of their ideology. They threatened me and said that now I knew what they were and who they were, I either did what they wanted or they would kill me. You cannot know their secret and just go. Once you know, you have to be part of them or they would just get rid of you. I was afraid for my life.”
They said now I knew what they were and who they were, either I did what they wanted or they would kill me. When he was caught by the police, he told the officers what they wanted to know. “And, now the security forces have arrested me, I have pledged to assist them. Even as it is now, I’m in trouble. If they get me, I’m a dead man.”