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Anxiety over Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS



Military allays fears of Nigerians 

BOKO Haram’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) has become a source of concern to many Nigerians. The Northeast Nigeria-based terrorist group had, last Saturday, released an audio statement on its Twitter handle, pledging obedience to IS.

  Though the sect hailed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of IS in one of its previous videos, this is the first time that it would be identifying with the group, which has large parts of Syria and Iraq under its control. In recent times, the similarities between both groups are becoming glaring.

  Unlike the past, Boko Haram’s videos are now coming with professionally-designed graphics and subtitles in French and Hausa. 

  At the weekend, Boko Haram released a video that was posted on Twitter by SITE intelligence group, which also posted videos on behalf of IS.

  However, in Saturday’s audio, Abubakar Shekau, leader of the sect said that his group would obey IS “in times of difficulties and prosperity. As to what follows, from your brother in Allah, Abu Mohammed Abu Bakr bin Mohammed Shekau, the Imam of Jama’tu Ahlus Sunnah Lidda Awati Wal Jihad to the caliph of Muslims Abu Bakr Ibrahim bin Awad bin Ibrahim al-Husseini al-Qurashi,” he said. 

  “We are sending you this message, following what Allah said in his Quran: And hold fast, all together, to the rope of Allah and not be divided among ourselves.

  “And what the prophet said; whoever died and had not Imam, died by ignorance. In submission to the order of Allah ‘Azza wa jal’, and submission to order of the prophet peace be upon him, we announce our allegiance to the caliphate of the Muslims Ibrahim ibn Awad ibn Ibrahim al-Husseini al-Qurashi and will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity, in hardship and ease, and to endure being discriminated against and not to dispute about the rule with those in power except in the case of infidelity.”

  Shekau reportedly called on Muslims across the world to equally support ISIS, saying the new alliance with the group would help to fight enemies of the religion. 

  “We call on Muslims everywhere to pledge allegiance to the caliphate and support him, as obedience to Allah and as their application of the absent duty era,” he said. 

  “We pledge allegiance to the caliphate because of the interest of the Ummah in their religion and in their Dunya to have an Imam that looks after them according to Allah’s rule and fight the enemy of Islam and those who fight the rule of Allah and this is the completeness of the religion with the book that guides and the sword that favours the religion and the world for Muslims will never be complete without it; interest of sons of Adam won’t be successful without them being united under one Jamaa’ah after their gathering together; they must have a head, and it’s not a problem even if less of the groups who oppose the others unite for this cause. 

  “We pledge allegiance because there is no cure of the dissimilarity that Ummah have except the caliphate. We also call on all the Muslims to join us in this goodness, because it would enrage the enemy of Allah.

  “By Allah, our gathering under one banner, under one Imam is heavier to the enemy’s morality than for them to attain victory on the battle field.” 

  Earlier on Saturday, four bomb blasts killed at least 50 people in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri in the worst attacks there since Boko Haram militants tried to seize the town in two major assaults earlier this year. Female suicide bombers believed to be acting for the group launched a series of attacks in markets, while another detonation was reported at a bus station.

  In a fifth incident, a car bomb exploded at a military checkpoint 75km outside the city, wounding a soldier and two members of a civilian defence unit. The attacker in this incident had wanted to reach Maiduguri, a police officer at the scene said. In total, it is believed 58 people have been killed in the incidents and 143 wounded, but both figures were expected to rise.

  Maiduguri was once the base of the Islamist group, which has been conducting a campaign of violence pushing for Islamic rule in Nigeria. At least 13,000 people have so far been killed in the campaign. After being pushed from the city last year, the militants retreated to the nearby Sambisa forest, from where they launched attacks on villages and towns in the region, taking over swaths of territory.

  In recent weeks, experts noted that Boko Haram’s propaganda increasingly resembled that of the Islamic State extremist group, possibly indicating closer ties between the two networks. Earlier this week, Boko Haram released a video purporting to show militants behead two captives, which echoed the style and content of the Islamic State’s grisly hostage execution videos.

  The practical implications of Boko Haram’s pledge remain to be seen. The Nigerian group, primarily a local insurgency against the government, has long aspired to play a greater role in global jihadi networks. Yet Boko Haram has not set up structures of government in territories it captured, which the Islamic State made a key tactic in Iraq and Syria. Rather, its violent campaign of killing, kidnapping and suicide bombings has thrown northeast Nigeria into utter chaos.

  Last month experts warned Boko Haram was likely to increase its attacks on civilian targets in response to the successful campaign by government forces to retake several of the group’s former strongholds.

  But the Military on Sunday allayed the fears of Nigerian citizens, particularly the ones residing in the Northeast sub-region of the country over Boko Haram sect leader Abubakar Shekau’s pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq.

  Shekau’s allegiance to IS was contained in an audio statement posted on its Twitter account yesterday.

  Speaking in a Hause service of the British Broadcasting Corporation

(BBC) and monitored in Maiduguri, Acting Director of Army Public

Relations, Col. Sani Kukasheka said that Nigerians should not entertain any fear over Boko Haram’s allegiance to IS to instill more terror and terrorists activities in Nigeria.

  “With or without allegiance to IS, the days of Shekau are already numbered, because, all the insurgents’ training camps and hideouts in the affected Northeast, are destroyed, while the terrorists have been routed from their camps and hideouts, and those who have escaped our ‘condone and search operations’ in the Sambisa Forest and the Lake Chad Basin Areas, are on the run, abandoning their operational vehicles, arms and ammunitions,” said Usman on the BBC.

  He said that Boko Haram’s allegiance to IS was however to cause more “fears and terror” among Nigerian citizens, because the modus operandi of insurgents, are also similar to the Islamic fundamentalists in some Middle East countries.

  “With Shekau’s public allegiance to IS, clearly indicates that he may surrender or be killed in the ongoing joint military operations of Nigeria and three neigbouring countries of Chad, Cameroon and Niger,” said Usman yesterday.

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