News / Africa

Schoolgirl Abduction Puts New Spotlight on Boko Haram Leader

FILE - A grab made on July 13, 2013 from a video obtained by AFP shows the leader of the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau, dressed in camouflage and holding an Kalashnikov AK-47.
FILE - A grab made on July 13, 2013 from a video obtained by AFP shows the leader of the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau, dressed in camouflage and holding an Kalashnikov AK-47.
Anne Look
The abduction of nearly 300 girls from a secondary school in northeastern Nigeria has vaulted the leader of militant Islamist sect Boko Haram into the international spotlight.  Abubakar Shekau transformed the sect into a jihadist army capable of increasingly brutal attacks.
 
He's been portrayed as a bloodthirsty mad man and a highly intelligent, fearless leader.  And that's just according to the man himself.  Experts say there's likely truth to both depictions.
 
Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the attack on the military's Giwa barracks in March in Maiduguri.
 
"It is now that you will really understand me," he declared. "You don't know my madness, right?  It is now that you will see.  By Allah, I will slaughter you."

 
FILE - Abubakar Shekau speaks in a video sent to AP on May 5, 2014.FILE - Abubakar Shekau speaks in a video sent to AP on May 5, 2014.
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FILE - Abubakar Shekau speaks in a video sent to AP on May 5, 2014.
FILE - Abubakar Shekau speaks in a video sent to AP on May 5, 2014.
He also claimed responsibility in the video for kidnapping the nearly 300 schoolgirls on April 14.
 
"Do you think I will stop Allah's work?  I am not mad.  It is you that is mad…. I know my religion well," he noted. "I am not illiterate... Even if you kill me, other fighters will rise up better than me.  I am nothing and worthless before God who I am working for. That is the Islam you do not know."
 
The militant leader laughed and pledged to sell the schoolgirls into slavery.  His smiling, fidgety delivery has people calling him a maniac.
 
Much of the 56-minute diatribe, which he read from papers he was holding, is on par with his usual mix of threats and ideology.  It's a belief system Shekau has been preaching since well before he traded in his traditional robes for military fatigues.
 
He considers democracy a form of "paganism" and sees Western education as a conspiracy to corrupt and destroy Islam.
 
Boko Haram began in 2002 in northeastern Nigeria.  The sect went underground in 2009 after a police crackdown and the killing of founder Mohammed Yusuf.  Shekau, Yusuf's deputy, took over.
 
From preacher to militant Islamist leader

By that time, Shekau had already made a name for himself as a learned Islamic scholar, a hard-liner and a persuasive preacher.

​A video from those days shows Shekau the preacher, dressed in white, giving a sermon.  From an ideological standpoing, it's eerily similar in content to the videos he now sends into the world from hiding.  This "journey we have undertaken," he says at the end, is the will of God.

Shekau rules out negotiation and says followers must create their own Islamic state.
 
He commands an army of what experts say is hundreds of heavily armed fighters.  Shekau has been declared dead at least twice, only to re-emerge.
 
Under his leadership, the group has broadened its international ties and carried out attacks in Nigeria ranging from suicide car bombings to assassinations.  Muslims, Christians, civilians, military - no one has been spared.  Thousands have been killed.  The attacks have grown in scale and brutality.
 
VOA viewed a recent internal Boko Haram video depicting militants beheading what appear to be captured Nigerian soldiers.  In his most recent video, Shekau referred to enslaving and "harvesting the necks" of infidels, which he says "have no value" and include all who are against them.

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by: okotopori from: kano
June 03, 2014 9:49 AM
pls mr boko come dawn


by: ebuka from: abia state
May 11, 2014 5:15 PM
the president of nigeria do't no wat he is doin, infact make him go die, na now him no say him go call u.s.a may god 4giv him and me 2.


by: Ade from: Kano
May 09, 2014 8:28 AM
Dis man is a evil.he will die soon I promise u


by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
May 09, 2014 2:24 AM
First of all, the Nigerian Government has a big responsibility. When President Goodluck Jonathan took office, He took an oath to protect his fellow Nigerians and to defend his country. We have seen Nigerian military going out on a peacekeeping mission and they did tremendous good.Example, when the Nigerian military was in Liberia. They did good by crushing Charles Taylor rebels. And Boko Haram is nothing compares to that of Mr. Taylor rebels. then why it is that the Nigerian military cannot defeat Boko Haram? I tell you why, There are fault play in the Goodluck Government. there are people in the Government, and military supporting Boko Haram. There are people in the hierarchy of the Goodluck Government that are involved with Boko Haram. They feed Boko Haram with information. Remember Nigeria is partly an Islamic country.Secondly do you think if the Nigerian Government wanted to crush Boko Haram, they won't do it? they have the capacity to do so. so there have to be an investigation in the Goodluck Government. There is no way that your so call Boko Haram can stand before the Nigerian military, This is a fault play. So your bring our girls back. God bless those parents


by: Ab from: benue nigeria
May 08, 2014 5:30 PM
you infidel, you will soon join saddam and osama in hell. you are a demon. I challenge to come out of hiding. cowards.


by: R Minder from: Zantebe Bt.
May 08, 2014 2:46 PM
Boko Haram are terrible and should be arrested but most of the blame belongs to the gov't of Nigeria....Mr "Goodluck" Jonanthan and his party expouse conservative values,autonomyand free enterprise and have allowed the Boko Haram to grow and grow...where is the army? Chaos is the norm for hapless Nigeria...


by: Gary from: United States
May 08, 2014 2:08 PM
This guy has done nothing but hit unarmed civilians and planted bombs or captured school girls ,he has about as much sense as a piece of dung . his members ,young poor kids are doing his dirty work and being used by him . He has a death wish and it will be fulfilled soon especially if those Nigerian soldiers get hold of him they will make what happened to Gaddafi look like recess.


by: jason from: los angeles california
May 08, 2014 2:06 PM
Into the international spotlight and gun sights of UN commandos for narcissism and lunacy will send this idiot on the same path as Sadam and Bin Ladin...in a body bag. Hope they act swiftly to put down this thug and the rest of his crew and bring the girls back to their families.

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