Nigeria's Boko Haram pledges allegiance to Islamic State group
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Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS) group, which rules a self-declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, according to a video posted online on Saturday.
“We announce our allegiance to the Caliph ... and will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity”, read an English language translation of the video broadcast in Arabic that purported to be from the Nigerian militant group.
The pledge of allegiance was attributed to Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.
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 the Islamic State group and self-proclaimed caliph of the Muslim world.
FRANCE 24’s terrorism expert Wassim Nasr said that it was clear Boko Haram had been establishing closer ties with the IS group for some time.
“It was obvious that [Boko Haram] were getting better and more efficient in their communications and their combat skills” suggesting Boko Haram may have been advised by the Islamic State group, he said.
“It does not mean that IS militants were on the ground in Nigeria – they could have been advised through the Internet, through messages,” said Nasr.
The IS group has already accepted pledges of allegiance from other jihadist groups in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and north Africa.
They include Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a group operating in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which became one of the largest militant organisations to pledge loyalty to the IS group outside of its Iraq and Syria strongholds in November last year.
“This show that today IS is much more attractive than al Qaeda (to jihadists), because they have attracted the two big groups,” noted Nasr.
Boko Haram has been waging a six-year military campaign to carve out an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.
On Saturday, four bomb blasts killed at least 50 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.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)