ICC Note: Only a few days after the president of Chad declared him dead, the purported leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, appeared on an online recording. Then man speaking claimed to be Shekau and stated, “Woe unto liars that had claimed I’m dead.” The authenticity of the recording has not yet been verified, but Nigeria’s defense ministry has dismissed the credibility recording as “baseless.”
By Drew Hinshaw
08/17/2015 Nigeria (The Wall Street Journal) – Days after Chad’s president declared him dead, Africa’s most wanted terrorist, Abubakar Shekau—or somebody claiming to be him—surfaced in an online audio recording, vowing to keep Boko Haram’s militancy raging for years to come.
“Woe unto liars that had claimed I’m dead,” the person claiming to be the insurgency’s leader said in the recording, which was posted on jihadist websites on Sunday. “Nobody can kill me.”
The recording, which couldn’t be independently verified, came after six months of radio silence from Mr. Shekau, or anyone professing to be him, prompting a guessing game over whether he had died. In a radio address last week, Chadian President Idriss Deby said—without offering proof—that his troops had killed the militant leader, who voiced loyalty to Islamic State in a audio recording this year—although that clip also couldn’t be verified.
Nigeria’s defense ministry immediately dismissed the tape’s credibility, saying, “The audio message is baseless and cannot be corroborated.”
The vague eight-minute message was a more restrained display than what Nigeria has come to expect from the public face of Boko Haram’s six-year-long killing spree. The voice claiming to be Mr. Shekau mumbled in measured tones, a stark departure from the bombastic displays he once broadcast on YouTube, grinding his hips against an AK-47 or threatening to make slaves of the more than 200 girls Boko Haram seized from a boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria.
The shift in tone was one reason for skepticism over whether it indeed was Mr. Shekau on the recording. Nigeria’s military has three times announced the terrorist leader’s death—in 2009, 2013, and 2014—only to accuse Boko Haram of using impostors.