by M.J. Smith
The leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram has
expressed solidarity with global jihadists,saying the US and Britain “should witness that we are with our mujahideen brothers,” in a video posted Thursday, SITE said.
According to SITE Intelligence Group, a
US-based organisation, Abubakar Shekau gave the speech in Arabic in a 39-minute video posted to jihadist forums. It was not clear when it was recorded. “The world should witness, and America,
Britain, Nigeria and other crusaders,
meaning America and Britain, should
witness, and the Jews of Israel who are
killing the Muslims in Palestine should
witness… that we are with our mujahideen brothers in the cause of Allah everywhere,” a translation by SITE said.
Boko Haram has been widely seen as a
domestically focused extremist group,
targeting symbols of Nigerian authority
as well as churches,among other targets in its insurgency that has killed hundreds in Africa’s most populous nation. Its contacts with global jihadist forums have also seemed to have been limited,with videos of Shekau often posted on YouTube.
The video posted Thursday however
makes particular reference to global
events, according to SITE. Shekau salutes fighters in the Maghreb region of northern Africa, “the Islamic state in Mali,” Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and “our brothers and sheikhs in usurped Palestine.”
“O Britain, America, Israel and Nigeria:
Don’t think that jihad stops with the
death of imams,” Shekau says, according
to SITE. “Because imams are individuals.
Jihad started now, jihad started now, O
enemies of Allah.”
He adds “don’t you see and think how
many sheikhs and men were martyred,
like Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi,Usama bin Laden, Abu Yahya al-Libi, Abu
Yusuf Muhammad bin Yusuf al-Nigiri, and others … “Did jihad stop?! Did jihad stop?! No….”
According to SITE, the video also shows
supposed training of Boko Haram fighters as well as guns and equipment. Violence linked to Boko Haram’s
insurgency has left some 3,000 people
dead in northern and central Nigeria
since 2009, including killings by the
security forces. It claimed responsibility for the bombing of UN headquarters in the Nigerian capital Abuja in August 2011 which left at least 25 people dead. The group has claimed to be fighting for
the creation of an Islamic state in
Nigeria, whose 160 million population is
roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.
However, its demands have repeatedly
shifted and it is believed to include
different factions with varying aims, in
addition to criminal gangs and imitators
who carry out violence under the guise of the group.
Shekau is believed to lead Boko Haram’s
main Islamist wing. He and two other Nigerian extremists have been labeled “global terrorists” by the US government. Washington has however so far declined to label Boko Haram a terrorist group due to its domestic focus and nebulous nature, among other factors.
Last week, Nigeria’s military offered
hundreds of thousands of dollars in
rewards for information leading to the
capture of leaders of Boko Haram in a
statement that listed 19 alleged senior
members of the group. The rewards ranged from 50 million naira ($317,000, 245,000 euros) for Shekau, to 10 million naira for various Boko Haram “commanders”.