Abubakar Shekau, the leader of al-Qaeda offshoot Boko Haram, surfaced in a new video, where he dismissed claims made by governments and media outlets that he was deceased. The video, obtained by AFP on Thursday, showed Shekau talking about how he had successfully implemented an Islamic Caliphate in a heavily-populated swath of Nigeria.
Boko Haram leader Shekau proclaimed, “Here I am, alive. I will only die the day Allah takes my breath.” He continued, “We are running our caliphate, our Islamic caliphate. We follow the Koran. … We now practice the injunctions of the Koran in the land of Allah.”
Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau
“It is propaganda that is prevalent. I have one soul. I’m an Islamic student,” he added. “I’m the Islamic student whose seminary you burnt. … I’m not dead.”
The video also appeared to show the wreckage of a Nigerian fighter jet that had reportedly been shot down by the Islamic militants on September 11th. The Nigerian government’s official position is that the particular event never occurred.
Both the Nigerian and Cameroonian militaries have previously claimed to have killed Shekau in battle.
The 36-minute video reportedly features acts of violence, such as beheadings, stonings, and amputations.
AFP said the video “showed Shekau, in combat fatigues and black rubber boots, standing on the back of a pickup truck and firing an anti-aircraft gun into the air. The news agency also mentioned that Shekau was “standing in front of three camouflaged vans and flanked by four heavily armed, masked fighters,” and that “he then speaks for 16 minutes in Arabic and the Hausa language widely spoken in northern Nigeria.”
Boko Haram received international media attention after over 200 schoolgirls were abducted by the radical Islamist group in April.