Boko Haram jihadists, in a new propaganda video, claimed that their leader, Abubakar Shekau, who did not appear in the film, is still alive and leading the terrorist group.
“Our leader, Abubakar Shekau is alive and remains our leader,” declared a gun-wielding unidentified Boko Haram jihadists in the 17-minute video, which was reportedly posted on social media on Wednesday, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP). The jihadist was surrounded by more than a dozen armed fighters as he read a statement in Hausa and Arabic.
Shekau has not been seen on video since February. Last month, an audio message, allegedly from Shekau, surfaced, in which he argued against the Nigerian military’s claims of victories against Boko Haram.
The leader’s absence has ignited speculation about whether or not he is still alive.
In the newly released video, the Boko Haram jihadist claimed that the Nigerian military lied when it claimed that an estimated 200 fighters had surrendered last month and that hundreds of women and children had been liberated.
“They lied that they have confiscated our arms, that we have been chased out of our territories, that we are in disarray,” the armed terrorist said in the footage.
“It is not true that 200 of our members have surrendered. It is also not true that our wives and children have been liberated, and that they have been enrolled in school,” he noted, adding, “The fact is that forces of the infidels have now resorted to propaganda because they have failed to subdue us in any way. We are still a force to reckon with.”
The video was titled “Islamic State in West Africa Province,” a name that Boko Haram has used since it pledged its loyalty to Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in March.
“Our allegiance remains with al-Baghdadi,” the Boko Haram fighter said in the video.
On the same day that the propaganda video was released, at least 14 people were reportedly killed in three separate suicide bomb attacks in northeast Nigeria. Boko Haram, which is based in Nigeria, has been blamed for the attacks.
The Guardian Nigeria reports:
The worst of the violence launched by the group on Wednesday struck the Yobe state capital of Damaturu, which was rocked by triple blasts that killed 14 people and left 10 others injured, according to Bashir Idris Garga, Yobe state coordinator at the National Emergency Management Agency.
“Damaturu has been repeatedly attacked during Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency. Last month, a girl thought to be aged 12 killed six when the explosives she was carrying went off outside a bus station,” adds the report.
The governor of Yobe state described the attacks as “cowardly and barbaric.”