A spokesman for ISWA addressing the camera
The Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), which is more commonly known by its former name Boko Haram, reaffirmed its loyalty to both its local leader Abubakar Shekau and the overall leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
In the video, a spokesman for ISWA began by talking about the “steadfastness of the monotheists” and that the “enemies of Allah the Almighty hold conferences and meetings to come up with a solution for the hole into which they fell, thinking that they can rescue their proxies and allies from the assault of the soldiers of the Caliphate,” according to a translation from the SITE Intelligence Group. He goes on to say that ISWA will inflict harm on their enemies in “Nigeria, the Niger border, Cameroon, or Chad” which have all seen attacks perpetrated by the ISWA.
The spokesman then lambasted statements released by the Nigerian government saying that “victory is imminent” over the jihadist group. “Neither the disbelievers nor their apostate henchmen were able to extinguish the light of Allah, so they rushed to use trumpets of hypocrisy from among media personnel and journalists to achieve what they can of fake victory.”
In the face of these claims, ISWA continues to mount a deadly insurgency in the country. While a coordinated military offensive by Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon has targeted ISWA strongholds in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, the jihadist group has maintained the ability to launch coordinated attacks and assaults throughout the region. It has shown that it has retained the ability to strike in large cities, like Maiduguri, with these coordinated assaults and suicide bombings. Many of these bombings make use of women and girls, with at least 105 being used since June 2014.
In referring to the insurgency, the spokesman on camera – whose identity is shrouded – remarked ISWA will not stop fighting until “you believe in Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He, through Islam.” He then gave an ultimatum to the Nigerian government, referring to Abubakar Shekau as the “governor” of the Islamic State’s West African province. “If you refuse and remain arrogant, then we go forth under the command of the governor of West Africa Province, Sheikh Abu Bakr al Shekawi, may Allah preserve him, and embitter your lives, make widows of your women, and orphans of your children.”
ISWA’s spokesman said the conflict in Nigeria will soon be like that of “Iraq, Sham [Syria], Libya, Khorasan [Afghanistan and Pakistan], and the Sinai.” He also sent a direct message to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari: “the Crusaders will not benefit you, and the atheists will not benefit for you, for they are weak and disabled. They will not be able to achieve what you want, and they will not rush to rescue you if the knives of the mujahideen reach your neck.”
Abubakar Shekau has long been the leader of ISWA and its prior incarnation of Boko Haram. Many have speculated what his role is now that the group is subservient to al Baghdadi’s Islamic State, but the referral of Shekau as “governor” of the West Africa Province confirms that Shekau still retains operational leadership of the jihadist group. Additionally, Shekau has not been seen in any video production for quite some time, which reignited rumors of his demise. While it cannot be verified he is indeed still alive, the mention by the jihadist group seems to indicate that he is.
The video closed with the reaffirmation of ISWA’s allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and the Islamic State. “We say to the soldiers of the Caliph of the Muslims, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi al Qurashi, may Allah preserve him: Steadfastness, steadfastness, and patience, patience. Victory comes with an hour’s patience.”