LAGOS (AFP) – The leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram expressed solidarity with global Islamist fighters, saying the US and Britain “should witness that we are with our mujahideen brothers,” in a video posted Thursday, SITE monitoring group said.
According to SITE, a US-based organisation, Abubakar Shekau gave the speech in Arabic in a 39-minute video posted to jihadist forums. It was not clear when it was recorded.
“The world should witness, and America, Britain, Nigeria and other crusaders, meaning America and Britain, should witness, and the Jews of Israel who are killing the Muslims in Palestine should witness… that we are with our mujahideen brothers in the cause of Allah everywhere,” a translation by SITE said.
Boko Haram has been widely seen as a domestically focused extremist group, targeting symbols of Nigerian authority as well as churches, among other targets in its insurgency that has killed hundreds in Africa’s most populous nation.
But the video makes particular reference to global events, with Shekau saluting fighters in the Maghreb region of northern Africa, “the Islamic state in Mali,” Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and “our brothers and sheikhs in usurped Palestine.”
“O Britain, America, Israel and Nigeria: Don’t think that jihad stops with the death of imams,” Shekau says, according to SITE. “Because imams are individuals. Jihad started now, jihad started now, O enemies of Allah.”
Violence linked to Boko Haram’s insurgency has left some 3,000 people dead in northern and central Nigeria since 2009, including killings by the security forces.
The group has claimed to be fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria, whose 160 million population is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.
However, its demands have repeatedly shifted and it is believed to include different factions with varying aims, in addition to criminal gangs and imitators who carry out violence under the guise of the group.
Shekau and two other Nigerian extremists have been labeled “global terrorists” by the US government.