After disappearing for more than a year, leading to widespread rumors of his death, Boko Haram boss Abubakar Shekau resurfaced with a new video posted on Thursday. The formerly boisterous Shekau was subdued and gloomy in what the Nigerian military described as a “farewell video,” announcing that “for me, the end has come.”
“This is a message of greeting and joy for you to see my face,” said the gaunt, distinctly unjoyful Shekau in his native Hausa tongue, as translated by AFP.
“This is my desire: that whoever sees this will hear nothing but greetings between me and you,” Shekau continues:
Only Allah knows the rest, as you believed (and) as you submitted. For me the end has come. This is only the message I want to send to you for you to understand that this is certainly I. This is why I did this. May Allah protect us so that no hypocrite stands between us. May Allah protect us from the devil so that he doesn’t achieve his evil among us.
“For this arrogant and boastful terrorist to speak in such a meek and subdued tone shows he has been trounced beyond his imagination. It is a farewell video,” a source within the Nigerian military declared.
Other analysts said it might signal a leadership change for Boko Haram, which has been losing territory and is said to be running low on supplies. Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State early last year.
AFP notes the new video is not as well-produced as previous Boko Haram communiques, which were modeled after the Islamic State’s propaganda videos, and it was posted onto YouTube, rather than being distributed through jihadi Twitter accounts.
It is also notable that Shekau does not refer to ISIS, which he pledged allegiance to in March 2015, or even refer to his own terror gang as “Boko Haram,” preferring an older and more formal name for the group. This prompted some to wonder if the video was actually shot a long time ago, or might even be inauthentic, using a double instead of the actual Shekau.
Nigeria’s This Day says the Nigerian military has yet to confirm the authenticity of the clip, which is described as showing Boko Haram’s leader “surrendering and advising followers to follow suit and give in to the superior power of Nigeria.” In a statement, the military warned citizens to ignore the video, “as it could be another ploy or antics of the terrorists to keep our innocent citizen off their current security alertness to maximize casualties if attacked.”
The salad days might be over for both Boko Haram and its leader, but the terror gang is still causing trouble, attacking with both suicide bombings and abductions.
On Thursday, the Premium Times of Nigeria reported that Boko Haram militants kidnapped 14 women and two girls from Adamawa State, while they were fishing and gathering firewood. Two other women reportedly escaped by pretending to drown in a river.
The region’s political representative, Adamu Kamale, declared the abduction “shocking news” and said, “we have been witnessing pockets of attacks contrary to the belief that security has been fully restored in the area.”