Boko Haram Leader

An Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) spokesman pledged allegiance to Boko Haram in a video released online yesterday. The video, though not authenticated, was released on sites frequented by ISIS followers.

This pledge was in response to an announcement late last week by the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, that they would ally themselves with ISIS.

Boko Haram has under significant stress in recent weeks, due to renewed interest from the Nigerian government to remove them from the localities under their control. Regional allies, in particular Cameroon and Chad, have carried out joint operations against the terrorist organization. Nigeria postponed its election because, according to its security chiefs and election commission, security at polling stations could not be guaranteed.

"We announce to you to the good news of the expansion of the caliphate to West Africa because the caliph... has accepted the allegiance of our brothers of the Sunni group for preaching and the jihad," a spokesman for ISIS said in an audio recording.

These pledges come at opportune moments for both Boko Haram and ISIS. Both terrorist organizations gain from the media attention and the agreement gives the perception of legitimacy and strength.

Analysts have commented that, other than rhetoric, there is no evidence of cooperation between these two organizations. Simon Tisdall of the Guardian commented, “the new alliance, unilaterally proclaimed at the weekend by Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, is unlikely to amount to much in terms of immediate collaboration on joint operations. It may, in fact, be more of a cry for help, given a recent string of defeats sustained by Boko Haram.”

Recent statements by the Nigerian Ambassador to Washington, DC claim that Boko Haram will not interfere with Nigeria’s rescheduled elections, despite these developments with ISIS.

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