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Abubakar Shekau Declares Islamic Caliphate as Boko Haram Militants Execute Civilians in Video Released Sunday

08/24/2014 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) — International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Abubakar Shekau, leader of the radical Islamic insurgency, Boko Haram, has declared an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State. A video released Sunday captured Shekau reading from a script, “Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate,” as Boko Haram militants executed dozens of civilians lying face-down in a ditch.

Gwoza, a once-predominantly Christian town situated near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon in Borno State, was seized by Boko Haram on August 5, prompting the massacre of more than 100 civilians, many of whom have been identified as Christians, in the early hours of August 6. Directives by Nigerian military leadership to retake Gwoza have been rejected by troops refusing to engage Boko Haram without having first received arms and equipment upgrades.

In the 52-minute video, Boko Haram declared the caliphate—explaining that Gwoza now has “nothing to do with Nigeria”—showed-off multiple pick-up trucks sporting large machine guns in their beds, and executed civilians, presumably from Gwoza, after forcing them to lay face-down in a ditch dug before the filming of the video.

For weeks, Boko Haram has attacked and occupied towns that loosely encircle the capital of Borno State, Maiduguri, which some analysts speculate the insurgency intends to attack with hopes of occupation. While at the time of this release no formal statement had yet been released by the Nigerian government regarding the situation in Gwoza, a military response is expected, pending the resolution of what many have termed a “mutiny” by displeased soldiers on the front.

Boko Haram, a radical Islamic insurgency spawned by the late Mohammed Yusuf, a radicalized cleric formerly headquartered in Maiduguri, fell under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau in 2009. Since, Boko Haram has targeted Christians, moderate Muslims, educators and students, and military and law enforcement personnel in its multi-year terror campaign to establish a separate Islamic state to be ruled by Sharia law. The terrorist organization (affiliated with al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and al-Shabaab) has conducted attacks both in Nigeria and Cameroon and is responsible for the mass-abduction of more than 270 schoolgirls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria.

Cameron Thomas, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said, “Today, a once-predominantly Christian town in northeast Nigeria joined the Islamic caliphate at the expense of far too many Christians martyred, displaced, and terrorized at the hands of armed extremists. For years, Boko Haram has waged a campaign of terror against Christians, moderate Muslims, educators and students, and law enforcement and military personnel for the establishment of a separate Islamic state; which, today, they felt capable of declaring. Such a declaration should serve as rallying point for the international community to come together and lend its full support to the Nigerian state in its battle against Boko Haram, and all other extreme ideologies plaguing the stability of not only that state, but the entire region. We mourn with the families of those brutally executed on camera, and join with others in praying for the security and well-being of those under the oppressive hand of the world’s newest self-declared regime.”

Abubakar Shekau

Civilians, likely Christians, being executed by Boko Haram militants

Boko Haram militants showing off a machine gun mounted to the back of a truck