Partners in jihad: ISIS welcomes Boko Haram’s allegiance
“Our caliph, God save him, has accepted the pledge of loyalty of our brothers of Boko Haram so we congratulate Muslims and our jihadi brothers in West Africa,” Reuters quoted Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad Adnani as saying in an audio message. He was referring to self-proclaimed IS leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi.
In the audio recording, Adnani also called on others to join the Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS/ISIL), stressing that if supporters cannot join the fight in Syria and Iraq, they should head to Africa. At the same time, he voiced more threats against Jews and Christians.
“If you want to save your blood and money and live in safety from our swords...you have two choices: either convert or pay jezyah,” Andani said, referring to a tax for non-Muslims under Islamic law. “[Otherwise] you will soon bite your fingers with remorse.”
The audio message tried to downplay recent military setbacks suffered by the group, following attacks from Iraqi and Kurdish armies and US-led airstrikes.
“The State remains steadfast...and is becoming stronger and continues to be victorious," Adnani said, adding that the enemies' alleged gains were “fake.”
“It is a mere taking back of a few villages in a war that is about attack and retreat,” he said.
Last week, Nigerian militant group Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, according to reports that cited a separate audio message. Boko Haram leader Abu Bakr Shekau reportedly said the group would “hear and obey” the caliph “in times of difficulty and prosperity.”
Boko Haram has grown from a small terror group to a mini-country with its own territory. It now controls an area the size of Slovakia, totaling about 52,000 square kilometers, according to an estimate released by The Telegraph.
The group was founded in 2002, but its increasing radicalization started after an uprising in 2009. Boko Haram's atrocities are estimated to have left at least 13,000 dead since the insurgency began in 2009.
In November, numerous other jihadists from Egypt, Algeria, Libya and other countries also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. And this January, Afghani and Pakistani militants joined the Islamic State, claiming they constituted its province.
Militants from IS – initially an Al-Qaeda offshoot group – control territory in Iraq and Syria and operate in other unstable regions of the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, such as eastern Libya and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt.
IS has performed gruesome executions of Jordanian, Japanese, American, British, French and Egyptian hostages, which are usually filmed and published on social media. The Islamic State is also said to have executed hundreds of civilians in militant-controlled areas of Syria and Iraq.