Boko Haram announces it is now allied with Islamic State

African securityBoko Haram announces it is now allied with Islamic State
Published 9 March 2015

Nigeria’s Islamist group Boko Haram has declared its allegiance to Islamic State. The leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau, announced the move in in a Saturday online Arabic audio message with English subtitles. Earlier on Saturday, five bomb explosions killed at least fifty people in the northeastern Nigerian cities of Maiduguri, Baga, and Borno. Boko Haram used five teenagers – four girls and one boy – to carry out the suicide attacks. The Nigerian military proved no match for Boko Haram, but since early February, when Chadian and Cameroonian forces joined the fight, Boko Haram has been losing ground. Security analysts noted that Boko haram fighters are massing at a headquarters in the northeastern town of Gwoza, in what appears as a preparation for a showdown with the multinational forces.

Nigeria’s Islamist group Boko Haram has declared its allegiance to Islamic State. In a video posted online Saturday, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, in an Arabic audio message with English subtitles, said: “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.”
According to the SITE Intelligence monitoring service, the video script identified the caliph as Ibrahim ibn Awad ibn Ibrahim al-Awad al-Qurashi, who is better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State and self-proclaimed caliph of the Muslim world.
Islamic State has already received vows of support from other jihadist groups in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and north Africa.
The Guardian reports that earlier on Saturday, four bomb explosions killed at least fifty 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 (see “Boko Haram’s deadliest massacre yet: 2,000 dead,” HSNW, 12 January 2015). Four female suicide bombers were responsible for a series of explosions in markets, while a fifth incident occurred at a bus station. In a sixth attack, a car bomb exploded at a military checkpoint seventy-five kilometers outside the city.
In all, fifty-eight people have been killed in the five incidents and 143 wounded, but official say both figures were likely to rise.
Maiduguri was the birth place of Boko Haram, and the launching pad for its campaign of terror which began in 2009, killing more than 13,000 and displacing about 1.5 million Nigerians.
The Nigerian military, weakened by endemic corruption, has been unable to deal with the Islamist insurgency, and officials in the government of President Goodluck Jonathan made brave speeches about the need to defeat Boko Haram, but did little else.
Things have begun to change earlier this year, however. Boko Haram launched a series of attacks against Nigeria’s neighbors Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. In response, these countries pressed Nigeria to allow their own militaries to contribute to the fighting and Nigeria, finally admitting that its own military was too weak and lacking in motivation to fight the Islamists, agreed (see “Nigeria’s neighbors joining war on Boko Haram,” HSNW, 4 February 2015; and “Boko Haram expands attacks as Chad’s military joins fighting,” HSNW, 2 February 2015).
The Guardian notes that last month security experts warned that Boko Haram was likely to intensify its attacks against civilian targets in response to the successful campaign by Chadian and Nigerian forces to retake several of the group’s strongholds.
The first attack on Saturday occurred at the city’s Baga fish market at around 11.20 a.m., when a female suicide bomber exploded as soon as she stepped out of a motorized rickshaw, killing eighteen people.
About an hour later a second explosion destroyed the Post Office shopping area near the market, leaving dozens of casualties. Two more female suicide bombers exploded the bombs they were carrying – one in a vest around her waist, the other carrying the bomb in a shopping bag — in what is known locally as the Monday market, the biggest in Maiduguri, killing at least fifteen people. The girl who carried the explosives on her body exploded her bomb when she was being scanned by security officers at the entrance to the market. Her friend exploded the bomb she was carrying in a bag a few seconds later.
The fifth suicide attack, at the nearby busy Borno Express bus terminal, was carried out by a 15-year old boy. The boy exploded his bomb s security officials were about to stop him.
Security forces have ordered the closure of all businesses in Borno and Baga.
President Goodluck Jonathan last week said that the tide has “definitely turned” against the Islamists as Nigerian troops and their regional allies recapture territory.
Cameroon, Chad, and Niger agreed to create a special force of about 8,000 fighters for fighting Boko Haram. The Chadian air force, regarded as the best in the region, has already conducted several successful attacks on Boko Haram’s camps and troop concentrations.
Chad’s president Idris Déby last week said that Chad’s military knew the whereabouts of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. He warned Shekau to surrender or face death.
Security analysts noted that Boko haram fighters are massing at a headquarters in the northeastern town of Gwoza, in what appears as a preparation for a showdown with the multinational forces.
 according to witnesses who escaped the town.
Nigeria presidential and parliamentary elections have been postponed by six weeks and will be held on 28 March. Boko Haram has vowed to disrupt the vote.

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