Boko Haram pledges allegiance to IS group

Boko Haram pledges allegiance to IS group
Nigerian militant group becomes the latest to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State group, vowing to "enrage the enemy of Allah".
3 min read
08 March, 2015
Abubakar Shekau said the pledge was his religious duty [Youtube]
Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group (IS, formerly knows as ISIS), according to an audio recording posted on the group’s Twitter page.

The Nigerian group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, made the announcement in an audio message on Saturday night, describing it as a religious duty and saying it would "enrage the enemy of Allah".

Boko Haram wants to carve out an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, and has fought a six-year war which has killed 13,000 people.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the IS group, has previously accepted pledges of support or allegiance from groups in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

'Natural ally'

There have been growing indications that Boko Haram was looking to formally align itself with IS group, starting last year when Shekau declared the captured town of Gwoza, in Borno state, part of a caliphate.

That followed a similar declaration by Baghdadi while both groups have captured swathes of territory.

In recent weeks, previously poorly produced Boko Haram videos took on the look and feel of more polished IS propaganda and were posted directly online, guaranteeing a wider audience.

IS was also reported to have received pledges of allegiance from militants in Nigeria.

Max Abrahms, a specialist in extremist groups, said Boko Haram and IS, which has yet to respond to the pledge, were in many ways a perfect match.

"Neither group (IS and Boko Haram) is inhibited in terms of violence. They're a natural ally," said Abrahms, from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Shekau may have attempted to tone down his violent rhetoric and improve Boko Haram's public image among the wider jihadi movement but indiscriminate attacks have continued against civilian "soft" targets.
     "Neither group is inhibited in terms of violence. They're a natural ally,"
Max Abrahms, Northeastern University in Boston

Scores of civilians have died in suicide attacks and bombings, despite the military fight-back by Nigeria and its regional allies Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

On Saturday, a woman with explosives strapped to her body blew herself up at about 11.20am at Baga fish market in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.

About an hour later another blast rocked the popular Monday market. Just after 1.00pm a third blast hit a used-car yard next to the busy Borno Express bus terminal.

Borno police commissioner Clement Adoda said 58 people died in total and 139 were wounded.

"The terrorists are angry with the way they were sacked from towns and villages and are now venting their anger," said Borno's justice commissioner, Kaka Shehu.


Nigeria's military on Saturday announced another success against Boko Haram, ousting them from Buni Yadi and Buni Gari in Yobe state after previously claiming the recapture of Marte in Borno.

Fighters were this week reportedly amassing in Gwoza, generally considered to be the group's headquarters, possibly in preparation for a military offensive.

Experts said the pledge of allegiance to IS, which is also being forced on the defensive in Iraq, could be a result of the military pressure.

"We have got two organisations that have suffered several setbacks in the last few weeks or months," said Yan St-Pierre, a counter-terrorism expert at the Modern Security Consulting Group in Berlin.
     We have two organisations that have suffered several setbacks
Yan St-Pierre, Modern Security Consulting Group

"This might be a way to send a message to the troops, to strengthen morale or attract more followers, particularly in Boko Haram's case."

St-Pierre suggested the pledge was linked to IS inroads in Libya, from where Boko Haram has been said to receive arms and ammunition via smuggling routes in the Sahel region.

"Most of the contact Boko Haram groups or factions have had with ISIS have been along that axis, and Sudan," he added.