In a recent audio message posted online on Sunday March 8, Nigerian-based Islamic extremist group Boko Haram declared allegiance with ISIS. The message is supposed to belong to the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau.
It is unclear whether the message is authentic but Jamestown Foundation member and also an expert on the terror group, Jacob Zenn stated the recording seemed to be real. There are many similar but fake audio messages on the Internet but according to Zenn the voice in this message most likely belong to Shekau.
In the recording, the speaker, which many believe is the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau, talks about the “allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims, Ibrahim ibn Awad ibn Ibrahim al-Husseini al-Qurashi” which is an alternate name for the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In his opinion, the step taken by the Nigerian extremist organization was quite predictable. He explained that:
“Boko Haram will get legitimacy, which will help its recruiting, funding and logistics as it expands into (French-speaking) West Africa.”
With these new allies, Boko Haram will most certainly learn new things about warfare and propaganda while also gaining legitimacy beyond Nigeria’s borders. Up until now, the group was considered more like the “outcast in the global Jihadi community” but now, it might become ISIS’s best collaborator.
According to Zedd, the next step should be the confirmation from an ISIS leader that indeed, the allegiance has been accepted by both parties.
Boko Haram has two main divisions. One is led by Shekau himself. The second division consists of former Ansaru (Boko Haram branch) members. Ansaru was formed somewhere around the year 2012, as a Nigerian subdivision of AQIM (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb). After an armed intervention in Mali in 2013, many of the members belonging to Ansaru were included in Shekau’s organization. This was a phase during which common ground needed to be established between former Ansaru members which followed al Qaeda principles and the Shekau’s ultra-extreme “takfiri”-like organization.
U.S. intelligence officials consider this new allegiance will last a short amount of time taking into consideration that ISIS is quite a racist organization, especially towards the black population and Boko Haram has a very African interpretation of the same teachings, “rooted in that region’s Islamic practices”.
Image Source: BBC News