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.
x
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.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs