Nigeria's Boko Haram pledges allegiance to Islamic State

The pledge to Islamic State came in an Arabic audio message with English subtitles alleged to have come from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. (AFP)

The pledge to Islamic State came in an Arabic audio message with English subtitles alleged to have come from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. (AFP)

Nigeria’s home-grown Boko Haram group, newly weakened by a multinational force that has dislodged it from a score of north-eastern towns, reportedly pledged formal allegiance to the Islamic State group.

The pledge to Islamic State came in an Arabic audio message with English subtitles alleged to have come from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and posted on Saturday on Twitter, according to the Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence monitoring service. 

“We announce our allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims ... 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 rule with those in power, except in case of evident infidelity regarding that which there is a proof from Allah,” said the message. 

The Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has declared himself the caliph. 

The Boko Haram pledge to Islamic State comes as the Nigerian militants reportedly are massing in the north-eastern town of Gwoza, considered their headquarters, for a showdown with a Chadian-led multinational force. Though there was no way to independently verify the message, it comes weeks after Boko Haram’s new Twitter account broadcast that the group’s Shura council was considering whether to swear formal allegiance to Islamic State. 

The Twitter account, increasingly slick and more frequent video messages from Boko Haram, and a new media arm all are considered signs that the group is being helped by Islamic State propagandists. Boko Haram in August followed the lead of Islamic State in declaring an Islamic caliphate in north-east Nigeria that grew to cover an area the size of Belgium. 

The Islamic State had declared a caliphate in vast swaths of territory that it controls in Iraq and Syria. The Nigerian group also began publishing videos of beheadings. The latest one, published March 2, borrowed certain elements from Islamic State productions, such as the sound of a beating heart and heavy breathing immediately before the execution, according to SITE. In earlier video messages last year, Shekau sent greetings and praise to both al-Baghdadi and leaders of al-Qaida.
But Boko Haram has never been an affiliate of al-Qaida, some analysts surmise because al-Qaida considers the Nigerians’s indiscriminate slaughter of Muslim civilians as un-Islamic. – Sapa-AP

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