The leader of Boko Haram, Imam Abubakar Shekau, has challenged the authority of Nigeria’s president in an online video, promising more attacks, Associated Press (AP) reported Wednesday.
Shekau is believed to be the successor to Yusuf Mohammed, the founder of the group, who was killed in 2009 allegedly by the police after he was captured alive in the uprising that led to hundreds of deaths.
According to AP report, the video of Shekau seems to have cemented his leadership of Boko Haram. The group has claimed responsibility for the majority of the assassinations and bombings carried out in recent times in the country. Watch video below
“In the end, they said they should kill us. They kill us. They burn our houses. They burn our mosques,” Shekau said in Hausa language in the video.
“They didn’t even leave us. Because of that, we thought, let us protect ourselves as well,” he added.
Boko Haram, whose name in Hausa means “Western education is sin”, has carried out attacks in North-east and Abuja that killed at least 510 people last year alone, according to an AP count.
The sect has been blamed by the government for killing at least 67 people in the last weeks alone, continuing its campaign to Islamise Nigeria.
Wednesday, suspected Boko Haram gunmen attacked a bus in Yobe State carrying Igbo traders fleeing the North, killing four people, police said.
Shekau took control of the sect after a riot and security crackdown in July 2009 which saw Boko Haram’s leader and about 700 others killed.
Police initially claimed to have killed Shekau during that violence, but he emerged last year in audio and video messages just before Boko Haram began its campaign of violence.
In the 15-minute video uploaded on Tuesday to YouTube, Shekau appeared relaxed, wearing a camouflage bulletproof vest and sitting between two Kalashnikov rifles.
He criticised President Goodluck Jonathan for speaking out about the sect and hinted that the group carries much more popular support across the North than what authorities believe.
“All these things you’ve been seeing happening, it’s Allah who has been doing it because you refuse to believe in him and you misuse his religion and because of that, the thing is more than you, Jonathan,” Shekau stated. “You can meet other people who think what we’re doing is good.”
Shekau also recites a list of areas where Muslims have been killed in communal violence across Nigeria, then called on the president of an umbrella group of Christians to “repent” for calling on worshippers to defend themselves after Boko Haram began targeting Christians.
“People are talking about us, that we are a disease, a cancer, to people in Nigeria,” Shekau stated. “But we are not cancer and we are not a disease. And we are not wicked people with a bad habit. If people do not know us, Allah knows us,” he said.
While Boko Haram attacks began as drive-by shootings on motorcycles, the sect’s assaults have become much more sophisticated over time, including using suicide car bombers.
The sect claimed responsibility for the August 26 attack on the United Nations headquarters in Abuja that killed 25 people and wounded more than 100 others.
It also carried out attacks that killed at least 42 people in Christmas Day strikes that included the bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla.
The US government believes Boko Haram remains in contact with two al-Qaida-inspired terror groups in Africa, which could account for the increasing complexity of their attacks.
The Shekau video also suggested an outside influence, copying the style of other terror groups’ messages, AP reported.
Tension over Boko Haram’s attacks has seen mosques attacked in recent weeks. On Tuesday, an angry mob attacked a mosque and school in Benin, Edo State, killing at least five people.