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Boko Haram Chief Signals Possible Retirement


FILE - This is a Monday May 12, 2014 file photo taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, and shows their leader Abubakar Shekau speaking to the camera.

FILE - This is a Monday May 12, 2014 file photo taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, and shows their leader Abubakar Shekau speaking to the camera.

Alleged Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has signaled his possible retirement in a new video that appeared online Thursday.

The eight-minute video, posted to YouTube, shows a subdued Shekau sitting and quietly praising Islamic fighters. At the end he says, "For me, this is the end," without elaborating.

In previous videos, Shekau was often seen shouting, gesticulating and firing assault rifles as he threatened Boko Haram's enemies.

Yan St. Pierre, head of the German security firm MOSECON, says Shekau may be preparing Boko Haram for a leadership change.

"[He] is basically setting up the transition phase of Boko Haram leadership in a way that can be internally clean, by which he is already preparing fighters to a possible exit, and that the fight will go on," St. Pierre said. "An exit on his own terms allows Boko Haram to bring a certain level of closure to the myth of Shekau and pave the way to new leadership that would have a certain level of legitimacy."

Nigerian security agencies have never determined that the man in the videos is truly the head of shadowy Boko Haram.

Officials have also said there were multiple Shekaus appearing in Boko Haram's videos. The army said twice it had killed Shekau, only for the militant leader to reappear.

The Islamist extremist group is blamed for some 20,000 deaths since beginning its insurgency in northern Nigeria in 2009.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to crush the group but the militants are believed responsible for a series of recent, deadly suicide bombings across northern Nigeria, many of them carried out by women.

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