After organizing an attack last Saturday on Maiduguri, a city in the North-East of Nigeria, where a suicide-bombing killed 50 people or more, the African terrorist organization Boko Haram officially swore allegiance to ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, recognized Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – the head of the Islamic State – as “Caliph” and promised to “hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity”.
Now that a week has elapsed since the African terrorist organization’s pledge of allegiance, a 28-minute audio message from Abu Mohammed al Adnani, a supposed ISIS spokesman, announced that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi accepted Abubakar Shekau’s oath of fidelity and declared that the caliphate has now broadened its frontiers to Western Africa. The ISIS leader congratulated the African extremists, to whom he referred as “our jihadi brothers”. Abu Mohammed al Adnani, the ISIS messenger, summoned Islamic radicals who want to join the jihad to become members of the Boko Haram troops, if they cannot reach Iraq or Syria.
Boko Haram has been active for several years in Nigeria, where it has been organizing terrorist attacks, with the purpose of taking over control and imposing a very drastic version of Sharia law. In the past few years, the terrorist organization has gone from fighting government soldiers to pillaging villages, kidnapping civilians, organizing assassinations, market bombings, as well as attacks on churches and even on mosques that were not part of the Boko Haram group. Their actions have brought instability not only in Nigeria, but in neighboring countries such as Cameroon and Chad as well.
The alliance between Boko Haram and ISIS is not that surprising for experts who study terrorism. According to Jacon Zenn, a Nigerian specialist, such a connection would grant the African terrorist organization legitimacy in front of other extremists, which means that it will gain new recruits easily. It is not the first time Boko Haram tries to become part of a larger extremist group: in 2009 they became the allies of al-Qaeda’s North-African branch (AQIM, or al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb), who helped the terrorists train and also organize the first suicide bombings in 2011. In his annual Worldwide Threat Assessment, National Intelligence Director James Clapper declared his worries that the new self-declared north-African Islamic State might expand to neighboring regions.
image credit: Conflict News