Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram has pledged allegiance or “Bay’ah” to the Islamic State (IS) in an audio statement shared online.
Boko Haram shared the audio message, which was read in Arabic wand displayed with English subtitles, on its official Twitter account and called on all Muslims to submit to the self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The voice on the recording, believed to be that of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, said:
“We announce our allegiance to the caliph… and will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity.
“We call on Muslims everywhere to pledge allegiance to the caliph.”
Boko Haram, which translates from the local Hausa language to mean “Western education is sinful”, has waged a bloody insurgency in northern Nigeria since 2009.
In recent months, the group are reported to have killed hundreds of civilians and kidnapped hundreds of young girls from towns and villages in northern Nigeria and in nearby areas in neighbouring states. Most recently, three bomb blasts killed at least 51 people in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maidugur.
Boko Haram first announced its support for the ISIS in January 2014, and then reiterated that support in June after the group declared a Caliphate and changed its name to the Islamic State. Since then, the two groups appear to have become tied more closely together, with IS helping Boko Haram in the production of new highly produced propaganda videos.
While Nigeria may be too far away from the Islamic State in northern Iraq and Syria for IS to provide logistical support, the announcement is a major propaganda coup for IS after months of setbacks on the battlefield since its failure to take Kobane.