In a video posted online this weekend, a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claimed that his group had planted the bomb that destroyed a bus station in the Nigerian capital of Abuja last week, killing dozens. To Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, he said: “I am in your city, near you. Find me.”
The video, which has made its way to YouTube, contains the typically inflamed rhetoric of the Al-Qaeda affiliated group, with a confirmation that Boko Haram did, in fact, manage to organize an attack in Abuja. The exact toll of the attack is unknown, but the Associated Press reports that 75 people are currently believed to be dead, while 141 other were seriously wounded. That attack, the report notes, was the first in two years on the Nigerian capital.
The man claiming to be Shekau also taunts President Jonathan that the bus bombing will be a “tiny incident” compared to future planned attacks, and that President Jonathan is a “lame duck” no longer able to negotiate with a group as menacing as Boko Haram. “We can only deal with your grand masters like Obama the president of America,” Shekau claims, according to a translation from Nigerian newspaper the Premium Times. He adds that the killings are retribution for killings of Muslims throughout the world.
The Nigerian government had previously claimed that they had restricted the expansion of Boko Haram, losing much control of the country’s northern territories but limiting the group’s ability to damage society outside of states like Borno, where Boko Haram kidnapped more than one hundred school-aged girls last week. The video posted this weekend on the bus bombing makes no mention of the mass kidnapping or of any other rumored attacks, such as the alleged burning of a school in the state of Bauchi. Shekau’s insistence that he himself is in Abuja and that Boko Haram have begun to plan attacks in the capital exacerbate the growing belief that the Nigerian government, head of the largest economy in Africa, are losing control of key territories to the terrorist group.
In response to the attack, President Jonathan insisted that “no criminal group will make this country disintegrate,” and that the display of people of many backgrounds donating blood and helping volunteer to remedy the bus bombing situation proved the strength of the nation. “Boko Haram will come and go,” he added as an aside to his annual Easter statement.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sin,” is a terror group organized in Nigeria in the early 2000s intent upon the implementation of Sharia Law and eradication of Islam from their nation. The group is responsible for dozens of mass killings, bombings, and kidnappings, only recently turning to the tactic of kidnapping Christian girls for use as slave brides as Christian men fled villages under Boko Haram’s control. The girls are also used as “bait” to bring out Christian men in their villages, who are killed upon approaching their previously missing family member.
United States military intelligence have tied Boko Haram, who work more as a guerrilla than organized crime syndicate, to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the African wing of the international terror group.