A new Islamist group called Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina fi Biladin Sudan (Supporters of Islam in the Land of Sudan) has vowed to defend the interests of Islam and Muslims in Africa, according to a videotaped monologue produced by the group’s emir, Abu Usamatul Ansar. The video, which was filmed in Arabic, was also translated into English and Hausa, a predominant African language widely spoken in northern Nigeria. The group is probably an offshoot of the radical Jamaatu Ahlil Sunna Wal daa Wati, commonly known as Boko Haram, which is the most violent al Qaeda-linked Islamist organization in Nigeria.
According to Ansar, Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina fi Biladin Sudan differentiates itself from Boko Haram in three noticeable aspects. First, Ansar does not believe in the killing of innocent non-Muslims, except in “self defense” or if they attack Muslims. “Islam forbids killing of innocent people including non-Muslims. This is our belief and we stand for it,” Ansar said in the video. Boko Haram, on the other hand, considers all non-Muslims, and particularly Christians, as enemies who must be killed.
Secondly, Ansar condemned the killing of “innocent security operatives,” and said he would not order attacks against them unless they attack him and his loyalists. Boko Haram, by contrast, has attacked police and other security personnel on a number of occasions. Finally, unlike Boko Haram, which focuses much of its efforts against non-Muslims in northern and eastern Nigeria, Ansar has vowed to defend the interests of Islam and Muslims throughout all of Africa.
But the existence of differences between Boko Haram and Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina fi Biladin Sudan does not obscure the fact that Ansar’s group is a dedicated Islamist organization that supports jihad against “any group of religion that attack Islam and Muslims.”
Ansar disparaged the Nigerian government for the “massacring of Muslims,” and he vowed that such behavior would no longer be tolerated. Ansar demanded that the Nigerian government allow Muslims to freely practice their religion and ensure that “justice was served to the people.”
So far, there has been no comment from Boko Haram concerning the creation of Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina fi Biladin Sudan, or about the identity of its mysterious emir. Similarly, it remains unclear how many followers of Imam Abubakar Shekau and his Boko Haram organization have defected to Ansar’s group, and what impact Ansar’s declaration will have among Islamists in Nigeria and greater West Africa.
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