Boko Haram’s elu­sive Shekau says ‘still around’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

KANO — Boko Haram’s elu­sive leader Abubakar Shekau said in an au­dio mes­sage on Thurs­day that he was still around de­spite ear­lier reports that he had been re­placed as head of the Nige­ria-based ji­hadist group by ISIS.

“Peo­ple should know we are still around. We will never cause any dis­cord among the peo­ple . . . we will live by the Qur’an,” Shekau said in a 10-minute au­dio mes­sage.

“This is our stand and we re­main in our ca­pac­ity as Jama’atu Ah­lis­sun­nah Lidda’awati Wal Ji­had,” he said us­ing the Is­lamic name for the hard­line ji­hadist group.

His voice was recog­nised by an AFP jour­nal­ist fa­mil­iar with pre­vi­ous mes­sages he has posted on so­cial me­dia.

It was also con­firmed as Shekau’s voice by Ber­lin­based ex­pert Yan St-Pierre of the Mod­ern Se­cu­rity Con­sult­ing Group.

Shekau’s au­dio mes­sage was re­leased in re­sponse to reports that he had been pur­port­edly re­placed by Sheikh Abu Musab al-Bar­nawi, a former ISIS spokesper­son.

In the lat­est edi­tion of ISIS’s on­line weekly mag­a­zine Al-Naba, which was pub­lished on Tues­day, there was an in­ter­view with Bar­nawi in which he was in­tro­duced as Boko Haram’s new leader

In March 2015, Boko Haram pledged al­le­giance to ISIS. But Shekau dis­missed Bar­nawi as an in­fi­del who con­doned liv­ing in an un-Is­lamic so­ci­ety with­out wag­ing ji­had.

The shad­owy leader’s ab­sence in re­cent months has sparked spec­u­la­tion about his fate and whether or not he had been de­posed as leader.

He be­came Boko Haram leader af­ter Nige­rian se­cu­rity forces killed the group’s found­ing chief Mo­hammed Yusuf in 2009, spark­ing an in­sur­gency that has left 20 000 peo­ple dead and forced 2.6 mil­lion peo­ple to flee their homes.

Boko Haram has been pegged back by an ag­gres­sive fight­back from the Nige­rian mil­i­tary since Jan­uary 2014, los­ing ter­ri­tory and its ca­pac­ity to mount con­ven­tional at­tacks.— News24.

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