Abubakar Shekau, most wanted terrorist says he is still the leader of Islamist terror group, Boko Haram.
This recent declaration by Shekau has exposed a major rift among Nigeria’s Islamic insurgents.
There are indications in some quarters that this could possibly pave the way for a break from dreaded terror group, Islamic State (ISIS).
ISIS had on Wednesday announced its new leader of Boko Haram, its so-called West Africa province, as Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
Boko Haram’s elusive leader Abubakar Shekau said in an audio message on Thursday he is around.
This is coming despite his reported ouster as leader of the Nigeria-based jihadist group by the Islamic State (IS).
The audio speech purporting to be from Shekau criticizes al-Barnawi.
Abubakar Shekau Says Still In Charge Of Boko Haram
It also says ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did not respond to letters explaining that al-Barnawi is “an infidel” preaching “false creeds.”
Shekau’s speech highlights ideological differences with al-Barnawi, who has promised to end attacks on mosques and Muslim markets — attacks that had become a hallmark of Boko Haram.
He took aim at Barnawi, dismissing him as an infidel who condones living in an un-Islamic society without waging jihad.
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Shekau in the 10-minute audio message said:
“People should know we are still around. We will never cause any discord among the people, we will live by the Koran.
“This is our stand and we remain in our capacity as Jama’atu Ahlissunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad,”
Shekau in March 2015 pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi and gave ISIS its first franchise in sub-Saharan Africa.
Shekau’s audio message was released after IS on Tuesday published an interview with Sheikh Abu Musab al-Barnawi in its Al-Naba online weekly magazine.
Musab al-Barnawi was introduced as Boko Haram’s new leader in the interview.
Since March 2015, Barnawi has appeared in several videos distributed by Boko Haram.
He had also claimed responsibility for successive attacks, earning him the reputation of group spokesman.