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

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs