New Boko Haram Video Shows Leader Alive and Well
A new Boko Haram video released Thursday may have confirmed that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Nigeria-based terrorist organization Boko Haram, is alive, healthy, and perfectly happy to literally flip off the West. So much for the Nigerian government’s insistence that it killed him two weeks ago. In the video, Shekau, who claims for the ...
A new Boko Haram video released Thursday may have confirmed that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Nigeria-based terrorist organization Boko Haram, is alive, healthy, and perfectly happy to literally flip off the West. So much for the Nigerian government’s insistence that it killed him two weeks ago.
In the video, Shekau, who claims for the second time to have declared an Islamic caliphate in northeastern Nigeria, is seen standing in an unidentified location, wielding a large gun, and wearing camouflage and a traditional scarf.
Speaking in Hausa, a common language in the region, he states that no one but Allah can decide when he will die.
"Here I am, alive," he said. "I will only die the day Allah takes my breath."
According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), the only news agency to obtain a full version of the 36-minute video, the footage shows gruesome acts of violence carried out by the extremist group, including amputations and deaths by stoning and beheading. In some shots, groups of people, including children, are gathered around to watch to the violence.
Shekau, who took credit for the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school in Chibok last spring, has repeatedly been reported as dead by Nigerian authorities, who have had trouble containing Boko Haram’s growing threat. Recent rumors sparked hope the Nigerian government had finally sealed a deal with the terrorists to return the girls, but Nigerian officials quickly debunked the rumor, saying a group of girls who had escaped after the initial kidnapping were mistaken by the media for those who remain in captivity.
Reports of Shekau’s death have frustrated the U.S. State Department, including one senior State Department official who said in a press conference in New York last week that the United States is hesitant to trust these reports because they have been proven false multiple times in the past.
"The Nigerians have announced several times that the head of Boko Haram was dead, and every single time we’ve found out that it’s not true," the official said. "What I’ve read recently is that the Shekau look-alike, or his — some Shekau impostor was killed, and then I read something later that maybe Shekau himself was killed. I don’t put a lot of weight on those stories until we see more evidence of that."
If the footage released Thursday is in fact Shekau himself — and not a look-alike — then Nigeria’s public lack of control over the situation is only becoming more clear.
In one clip released by AFP, Shekau is seen standing in the bed of a truck firing an anti-aircraft gun and screaming "Allahu akbar!" Some shots show him standing on debris that he claims is the remains of a Nigerian aircraft that went missing two weeks ago. Despite the fact the debris has the Nigerian military logo on it, a Nigerian air force spokesman told AFP that "for any group to claim they shot it down is mere propaganda and rubbish."
Nigerian officials have also been insistent that without an official timestamp, the video cannot be trusted, and that it’s still possible Shekau has a look-alike impersonating him to instill fear in Nigeria.
But in the video, whether Shekau or an impersonator, the subject is insistent he is the real deal, and is here to stay.
"Nothing will kill me until my days are over," Shekau shouted. "Some people asked you if Shekau has two souls. No, I have one soul, by Allah."