Boko Haram’s leader says he’s alive and still in charge

A soldier walks past a burnt building in Michika town, a town which was once occupied by Boko Haram
A soldier walks past a burnt building in Michika town, a town which was once occupied by Boko Haram
Image: Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye
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While he may have been “missing in action” for the past 5 months, Abubakar Shekau–the controversial leader of the Nigerian-based Islamist insurgency group Boko Haram–says that reports of his ousting are false: he is still alive and remains in charge of the insurgency group.

The BBC reports that Shekau denied claims of his death and his ousting as leader in an audio message released on Sunday to the leader of the Islamic State group (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,

Shekau was last publicly seen in March in a video in which he pledged allegiance to ISIS, since then he has not featured in Boko Haram’s most recent videos.

It was President Idriss Dèby of Chad who announced claims that Shekau had been replaced as leader of Boko Haram. Speaking last week Wednesday (Aug. 12) in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital city, Dèby said Boko Haram had been weakened and Shekau had been replaced by Mahamat Daoud—a new leader willing to negotiate with Nigeria.

In a series of tweets, Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group–a US-based consultancy that monitors international terrorism networks—quoted from the Shekau’s audio message sent to ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Analysing Shekau’s audio message, Mansur Liman, editor of BBC’s Hausa Service said that the voice was that of Shekau, but that in the audio recording, Shekau seemed more subdued than in previous ones.

“His delivery was slow and steady, in contrast to his habitually theatrical performances. It is also interesting that this was an audio recording, rather than one of the slickly produced videos Boko Haram has been releasing, rather like those of its Islamic State allies. It could be that the pressure is starting to tell,” said Liman according to the BBC report.