Boko Haram Releases New Video of Shekau Preaching in One of the Captured Towns in Nigeria
A new Boko Haram video obtained by AFP on Sunday shows militants on an armoured vehicle parading down a road in an unidentified town they apparently control and the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau preaching to locals.
It was not possible to tell whether the footage was staged for propaganda purposes, especially scenes of residents cheering Islamist fighters.
The message appeared to be aimed at reinforcing Shekau’s claim that he has created a caliphate within Nigeria.
In the 44-minute video, Boko Haram voices support for other so-called caliphates, including the one proclaimed in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State (IS) group.
Shekau, who is pictured in close-up shots with rare clarity, again dismisses government claims about ceasefire talks and threatens to kill the man who has presented himself as Boko Haram’s negotiator.
The video, which was delivered through the same channels as past messages, shows armed men lined along a well-paved road, with three pick-up trucks equipped with heavy weapons also visible.
Black, crested flags associated with the Islamist group are also shown.
Later, an armoured vehicle is driven down the road lined with both fighters and individuals who appear to be residents of the town.
Boko Haram has released a series of videos showing similar military hardware, equipment it says was stolen from the Nigerian military. Such claims have been impossible to verify.
No women or girls are seen on the street or anywhere else in the footage.
Most of the message is taken up by a sermon from Shekau, delivered indoors but apparently played on a speaker to locals assembled outside.
“We have indeed established an Islamic caliphate,” he said, restating a call he first made in August.
The images of the sermon include unusually clear close-ups of Shekau, who in past videos has often been shown at a distance, sometimes in grainy footage.
– ‘Support for Islamic brethren’ –
Shekau has previously expressed solidarity with other jihadi groups and leaders, including the IS militants.
In the latest video, he seemed to associate territory under his control with a wider, global caliphate, but did not submit to the authority of any other jihadi leader.
“To everyone living in Islamic Caliphate, we convey our greetings,” he said, specifically mentioning “brethren” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Shishan (an Islamist term for Chechnya), Yemen, Somalia and “the Caliphate in Iraq and Syria.”
A graphic shown later includes a picture the IS group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as well as a portion of the message his group issued on July 1 proclaiming a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
Iraq on Sunday was investigating whether Baghdadi was killed in air strikes by US-led coalition warplanes.
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