‘How We Got Money, Weapons From Al-Qaeda,’ Shekau Reveals In Last Audio

The Boko Haram leader said his group once received N50 million and weapons from Al-Qaeda, with the money leading to infighting between his followers.

Abubakar Shekau in a segment of his last audio clip obtained by HumAngle, gave an unusual public statement on the process that led to Boko Haram establishing links with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. 

In a previous report on the message recorded a day before his death, HumAngle disclosed that the Boko Haram leader facing an onslaught from the rival terror group, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), tried to explain the factors responsible for the friction, difference in creed, and skirmishes between both factions. 

Shekau in the audio, which appeared to have been recorded in front of a gathering, also disclosed details of the group’s earlier contacts with Al-Qaeda, support received, and talks that led to the declaration of fresh allegiance to the Islamic State. 

“Originally, when we first arrived in the forest and stayed, listen to my explanation well … at first, I  pledged bay’ah (allegiance) to Al-Qaeda,” he said.

Shekau followed up with comments on the terror group’s member who was in contact with Al-Qaeda and dispatched materials between Nigeria and Mali.

After one of the trips, the individual brought back N50 million and weapons. The money (whose currency he did not specify), however, caused trouble and led some members to leave their ranks. 

According to Shekau, they wanted him to give them the funds to work with it. 

Boko Haram’s Al-Qaeda contact person was arrested by Nigerian security forces and imprisoned for six months while attempting to convey a message from Mali on the problems with Al-Qaeda.

Researchers on Boko Haram and extremism have previously debated the connection between the group and Al-Qaeda, particularly its Sahelian affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). 

Shekau, in the recording, also described how some people persuaded him to pledge allegiance to the then ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the subsequent dispatch of a letter to Chad for the Caliph. 

According to Shekau, the response came back with the Caliph making him Wali (Governor of the province).

In a report from the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, Shekau swore allegiance to al-Baghdadi on March 7 2015, effectively making his group an affiliate of the Islamic State and causing it to be rebranded to ISWAP.

The 2016 breakaway faction headed by Abu Musab al-Barnawi (Habib Yusuf) retained the name and is today the faction responsible for the recent overrunning of the Sambisa forest, the traditional stronghold of Boko Haram.

The Crisis Group report added that following Shekau’s pledge, ISIS began sending support to Nigeria in the form of ideological and operational guidance, and also some material assistance.

The future of the Boko Haram faction previously led by Shekau is currently unknown, given the take-over of its territory by the rival ISWAP terror group.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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