Friday 19 January 2018

Boko Haram warlord boasts on film that he 'enjoys killing'

Imam Abubakar Shekau, leader of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for the April 15, 2014, mass abduction of nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria
Imam Abubakar Shekau, leader of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for the April 15, 2014, mass abduction of nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria
In this image made from video received by The Associated Press on Monday, May 5, 2014, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Nigeria's Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, speaks in a video in which his group claimed responsibility for the April 15 mass abduction of nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria

HARRIET ALEXANDER

Abubakar Shekau, of the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram – the man who has claimed responsibility for abducting the Chibok schoolgirls – is leader in a loose sense of a guerrilla organisation with limited hierarchy and several factions.

Western media call him "shadowy", but he is the only recognisable face of Boko Haram outside northern Nigeria and expands on his infamy by releasing videos in English in which he talks of his murderous intent. He is the man who cheated death – the authorities have claimed several times he has been killed.

But Shekau has always resurfaced to mock the Nigerian authorities and issue video statements. Last year, he announced that Boko Haram would kidnap girls in retaliation for Nigerian security forces detaining wives and children of its members.

Last week he called the missing Chibok girls "slaves" and threatened that he would "sell them in the market".

"Western education should fold up. I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. I will marry off a woman at the age of 12. I will marry off a girl at the age of nine," he said.

The Nigerian authorities detained Shekau's own wife and three children, but it is not clear if they are still in custody.

He is said to have married one of the four wives of his predecessor, Boko Haram's more charismatic, university-educated leader, the preacher Mohammed Yusef, whom he met through a mutual friend.

Yusef was captured and executed without trial along with around 700 of his supporters in July 2009 after an armed rebellion against police.

He originally made political connections to promote his demand for sharia law, but claimed to have been let down by false promises.

Once heavily linked to failed governance and corruption, poverty and rising social inequality, the group under Shekau has shifted from targeting security forces and politicians to ordinary civilians, religious leaders, the UN and schoolchildren.

Shekau is believed to have been behind the 2011 bombing of the UN compound in Abuja, which killed at least 21, and several firebomb attacks on schools where children fleeing were picked off by gunmen.

Shekau uses the nickname Darul Tawheed, which means a specialist in the Islamic concept of oneness with Allah, but it is a claim that is disputed – as is his age, which the US put at between 34 and 43 when it placed a $8m (€5.8m) bounty on his head last year.

© Observer

Sunday Independent

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