|Boko Haram leader Shekau says he is 'still in charge'|
In the eight-minute Hausa-language message, Abubakar Shekau rebuffed claims by Chadian leader Idriss Deby that he had been replaced and called the president a "hypocrite" and a "tyrant".
"It is indeed all over the global media of infidels that I am dead or that I am sick and incapacitated and have lost influence in the affairs of religion," he said in the recording released on social media. "It should be understood that this is false. This is indeed a lie. If it were true, my voice wouldn't have been heard, now that I am speaking."
Deby declared on August 12 that efforts to combat neighbouring Nigeria's Boko Haram jihadists had succeeded in "decapitating" the group and would be wrapped up "by the end of the year". Deby told s in the capital N'Djamena Boko Haram was no longer led by the fearsome Shekau and that his successor, whom he named as Mahamat Daoud, was open to talks.
"Gratitude be to Allah and with his help, I have not disappeared. I am still alive and I am not dead. And I will not die until my time appointed by Allah is up," Shekau said in the message.
The SITE Intelligence Group verified the authenticity of the message, and an AFP correspondent with extensive experience of reporting Boko Haram said it exactly resembled Shekau's voice in previous recordings.
Shekau's absence from Boko Haram videos in recent months has fuelled speculation that he might have been killed or . He has not spoken publicly since he pledged allegiance to the (IS) group in an audio recording released on March 7.
The jihadist commander refers to himself in the new recording for the first time as "leader of the west Africa wing" of IS and pays homage to its leader , referring to him as the "Caliph of s".
He taunted Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power on May 29 vowing to crush Boko Haram and ordered his military chiefs last week to end the insurgency within three months.
"This ostentatious person, a liar -- I mean Buhari, who raised arms to crush us in three months. You Buhari, why didn't you say in three years?" Shekau demanded. "We will certainly fight you by the grace of Allah until we establish Allah's law everywhere on Earth."
Speculation about Shekau's condition -- and even his true identity -- has been rampant in Nigeria for years. The wanted Islamist leader's whereabouts are unknown, but he has in the past made himself heard whenever he has been proclaimed dead.
Some experts and Nigerian security officials insist "Shekau" is a composite character, with different fighters stepping into the role at different times. The original Abubakar Shekau -- the son of poor farmers who became radicalised in a series of theological schools before taking over Boko Haram in 2010 -- actually died months, or possibly several years ago, according to the security services.
But the United States and other experts have questioned the credibility of that claim.
|Where's Shekau? Chad president messes with Boko Haram's mind|
|[FINANCIALEXPRESS] If Chadian President Idriss Deby is to be believed, Abubakar Shekau, the bearded and bandoliered leader of Islamist militant group Boko Haram, is no more.|
|Boko Haram Has Been 'Decapitated', Says Chadian Leader|
Addressing s in the capital N'Djamena on the 55th anniversary of Chad's independence from , Deby said: "Boko Haram is decapitated. There are little groups (of Boko Haram members) scattered throughout east Nigeria, on the border with . It is within our power to definitively overcome Boko Haram."
"The war will be short, with the setting up of the regional force, it will be over by the end of the year," Deby added, referring to a new five-country force aimed at ending Boko Haram's bloody six-year Islamist insurgency that he said would be "operational in a few days".
Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria have all pledged troops towards the new force.
"For my part, I would advise not to negotiate with a terrorist," Deby, whose country has been spearheading the regional fightback against Boko Haram, said.
While claiming progress in the fight against the jihadists, who have repeatedly hit border areas of Cameroon, Chad and Niger, and wrought havoc in , Deby admitted that s still posed a threat.
In the past few week, suicide bombers, many of them women, have staged several attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.
The challenge, Deby said, was to "avoid terrorist acts and that's why we must organize at the regional level to prevent bomb-making materials and other explosives entering our countries."
|We're still strong -- Boko Haram|
|[PREMIUMTIMESNG] Jihadist group, , says its fighters remain in areas they were years ago, despite an aggressive military effort against it by Nigeria and neighbouring countries.|
The group made the claim in a new video, in which its leader, Abubakar Shekau, was again missing.
In the eight-minute video, an unidentified young man speaking in Hausa with Kanuri accent, said Boko Haram members remain on the ground.
"We are still present everywhere we had been before," he said.
The video shows the group launching attacks on the security checkpoint, seizing weapons, and cutting the throat of unidentified middle aged man dressed in a police uniform.
The absence of Mr. Shekau in the new video raises question again about whether he is still alive or dead.
He was absent in an earlier video from the group in July.
The group also called on s to reject the Muhammadu Buhari government.
|Saving Niger’s Uranium Before Boko Haram Gets It|
Niger's government has declared a state of emergency in Diffa. If Boko Haram could establish a base there, it would be within striking range of Niger's Agadez region. The country's uranium output is produced from three Agadez mines. Boko Haram, which has declared allegiance to the , must not be allowed to control one of the world's largest reserves of uranium ore.
In Van Hipp's recent book, The New Terrorism, he proposes we help Niger deplete its uranium reserves before can get them. The author is a friend and his efforts to bring attention to this issue are commendable.
This idea may take years to complete and Hipp believes we should coordinate with the French since French companies work in two of the main uranium mines. The third is run by the Chinese. The Chinese should be cooperative due to their long-term demand for energy.
We must also work with other G7 countries to push for economic aid to Niger in order to get them to extract as much uranium as possible. Intelligence cooperation against Boko Haram from Nigeria and potential Tuareg separatists in the north will also be crucial. Niger is one of the world's poorest countries. Uranium is its leading export. Our allies and we must make sure it's sold to the right people and that Niger has a way to safely keep the proceeds.
Boko Haram is also a tribal phenomenon, as well as Islamic. Both the founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, and its current leader, Abubakar Shekau, are from the Kanuri tribe. While the Hausa and Fulani tribes make up much of the elite in Nigeria, the Kanuri are marginalized and live in the Borno State, its poorest area.
|Boko Haram pledges allegiance to the Islamic State|
|[Daily Maverick] After months of teasing, Boko Haram has finally pledged allegiance to the Islamic State; an unholy alliance that, in theory, makes both sides bigger, badder and more brutal than ever before. But what if the theory is wrong? What if this is a sign of weakness, not strength?|
Boko Haram won't appreciate the analogy, but it fits: like a stripper tantalising her way towards the big reveal, the Nigerian militants have been teasing this one for months. There was the talk last year of joining a caliphate; the sudden change of tactics to emulate the Islamic State's successes; and, recently, the none-too-subtle flirting on Twitter.
So the announcement, when it came, was no surprise -- but no less momentous for it. Abubakar Shekau, in an audio message, confirmed that he as boko haram leader had pledged bayat -- allegiance -- to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Emir of the Islamic State and self-declared Caliph.
More than likely a desperate move by BH. They've been taken on by a consortium of private security personnel in league with the host government. Mineral rights must be protected.
Related article, book review.
|Boko Haram kill 40 in Diffa, southeast Niger|
|[AA.TR] At least 40 people were killed and several others injured Wednesday night when suspected attacked Niger's southeast Diffa region, according to sources in the regional military alliance, the Multi National Joint Task Force.|
"In yet another daring cross border attack on Wednesday, the attacked two border villages in Diffa region," a Nigerian military officer serving in the alliance told Anadolu Agency.
"They used s in the attack, followed by sporadic gunshots," he said on condition of anonymity, as he had no authority to speak to the media.
A member of a local Nigerian vigilante group in Bosso, a Nigerian border town only a few kilometers away from the Diffa region, confirmed the attack.
"The attack appeared to be some sort of tit-for-tat because just yesterday the Chadian army bombed some Nigerian villages, obviously in retaliation for some s on its towns two days ago," Audu Alaram, a member of the local vigilante group, told Anadolu Agency by phone from Bosso.
"Yesterday night, the led two bombers and struck in the Diffa region attack and killed close to 40 people, according to information from the military," he said.
Boko Haram had until recently restricted its violent campaign to Nigerian towns.
Following complaints by Nigeria that were hiding in neighboring countries from which they launched cross border raids, the soon faced mounting pressure from troops from neighboring armies who pushed them back.
This has apparently led to recent attacks on villages in , Chad and Niger - all of which have recently joined forces with Nigeria to crush the group.
In video footage released early this year, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau warned leaders of neighboring countries not to help Nigeria in the fight against the group, threatening attacks on their soil if they supported the Nigerian government.
Analysts suggest that Boko Haram's recent pledge of allegiance to Daesh, which saw the Nigerian group change its name to in the West Africa Province, could be at the roots of its recent cross border raids across the region.
|23 Dead in Suicide Bomb Attacks on Chad Police|
|[AnNahar] Twenty-three people were killed on Monday in s targeting police in the Chadian capital that the government said was the work of s.|
They were the first such attacks in the capital of the central African nation, which has been on the frontline of the regional fight against the Nigerian Islamist group.
"Boko Haram chose the wrong target. These lawless and faithless will be flushed out and neutralized wherever they are," the government said in a statement.
It said 23 people were killed and another 101 in the simultaneous bombings outside the police headquarters and police academy in N'Djamena.
It said four "terrorists" were also killed, but did not give details. Earlier, a police official had told AFP that two s carried out the attacks, which came as police cadets were attending a training course at the academy.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The government said the situation was quickly brought under control, but the unprecedented assault on the capital prompted the creation of a "crisis cell" and vehicles with darkened windows were banned from N'Djamena.
Large numbers of members of Chad's security forces were also seen taking up positions on the streets.
President Idriss Deby was expected to return home during the day from an summit in Johannesburg, an official said.
In his absence, government ministers held a crisis meeting to discuss the bombings.
The former French colony is part of a four-nation coalition also including Nigeria, and Niger that was created to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency after the group stepped up cross-border attacks.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has on several occasions threatened to attack Chad and other countries in the coalition.
condemned Monday's blasts, with a foreign ministry saying "stands alongside Chad and its partners in the fight against terrorism".
Chad is a close ally of in its counter-terrorism Operation Barkhane in five countries in the and the French army has set up its headquarters for the campaign in N'Djamena.
Last week, Abuja hosted a summit where Nigeria and fellow coalition members plus Benin rubber-stamped an 8,700-strong regional force to replace the current four-nation grouping.
The long-awaited Multi-National Joint Task Force, which had originally been due to become operational in November, has its headquarters in N'Djamena, under a senior Nigerian officer.
|More Cooperation Needed against Boko Haram, Says Chad|
|[AnNahar] Chad's President Idriss Deby has called for better coordination between coalition forces fighting in , warning that the group has been but not defeated.|
"If we still have to fight and catch (Boko Haram leader) Abubakar Shekau, the armies have to work together," Deby said on a visit to Nigeria's capital Abuja on Monday to meet outgoing President .
"Boko Haram has been broken but isn't finished," he told s. "Our weak point is we haven't been able to coordinate operations on the ground."
Nigeria's army has been assisted by the militaries in Chad, Niger and since early February, which has led to a series of successes against the in the restive region.
Nigeria-based Boko Haram has led a six-year Islamist insurgency that has killed some 15,000 people and displaced about 1.5 million.
Towns and territory captured by the Islamists have been retaken and a major offensive has been under way for weeks in the group's Sambisa Forest stronghold in Nigeria's Borno state.
But Chad and Niger especially have complained that the Nigerian military has not stepped in to take over security after towns in border regions have been recaptured by their soldiers.
There have also been reports of Abuja wanting the neighboring armies to withdraw from its territory, allowing in some cases the to regroup and come back in to liberated areas.
Deby, who has previously bemoaned the apparent lack of a joined-up approach, said Shekau had exploited the situation, allowing him to remain free from capture.
"If there had been better cooperation, Shekau would have been wiped out with all his commanders," the president added.
According to Chad, some 5,000 of its soldiers have been involved in the counter-insurgency and 71 have .
Just before Nigeria's presidential election, which Jonathan lost to former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, Deby publicly criticized the president's approach to the security crisis.
On Monday, however, he congratulated Jonathan as a "great democrat" and "Pan-Africanist" for having contributed to the stability and peace of the region by conceding defeat to Buhari.
"When Nigeria coughs, all neighboring countries catch a cold," Deby added.
Deby also met Buhari on his visit but no details were disclosed about their discussions.
|Where is Abubakar Shekau?|
|[PULSE.NG] Abubakar Shekau is nowhere to be found.|
The leader was last heard from in March 2015 when he pledged allegiance to the terror group (ISIS) via an audio statement.
Since then he has practically gone underground and even failed to make a statement during Nigeria's recently concluded elections, which he vowed to disrupt.
Prior to this time, it was believed that Shekau had taken refuge in the group's notorious stronghold, Sambisa Forest.
intensive military operations in the forest, which led to the rescue of about 1000 , have failed to provide any clue as to the Boko Haram leader's whereabouts.
None of the captives freed from the sect has testified to seeing Shekau and the only ones who spoke of him told that the frequently threatened to take them to the terrorist boss in his abode deep in the forest.
The Boko Haram leader was recently named as one of TIME's most influential 100 people in the world; a development to which he would ordinarily have responded by mocking world leaders.
Shekau remained unusually silent and is still maintaining that silence to the confusion and bewilderment of many.
A Nigerian military source on Thursday, April 23, told Vanguard of his frustration at the elusiveness of the Boko Haram leader.
"The guy simply disappeared from the radar and suddenly vanished. We wish we can catch him alive," the source, who chose to remain anonymous, said.
Another report, by the Daily Sun, has it that Shekau might have fled the country.
"Having discovered that he was being tracked through his Thuraya satellite phone, Shekau recently dropped the line and handset totally to evade capture. But the last satellite image of him and other intelligence pieced together by forces on the battle frontline show his desperation to escape from the country to parts of East Africa or North Africa where ISIS is having some footholds," the Sun quotes a military source as saying.
The source also added that Shekau had changed his appearance in order to evade capture.
The Boko Haram leader was last seen in public in 2009 and since then, the Nigerian Army has claimed to have killed him many times.
Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade has said that finding Shekau is not the army's priority.
"The sensational idea of looking out for one individual should not distract us or hold us down," Olukolade told .
The US, however, does not share the same sentiments as it has maintained a $7 million (N1.4 billion) bounty placed on Shekau and lists him among 71 most wanted in the world.
Many have speculated that the real Shekau might in fact be dead and the person who appears on the videos is just a double.
whether he is real or fake, many around the world will only heave a sigh of relief when the mystery behind Abubakar Shekau is finally unravelled.
|Nigerian Army Rescues 200 Girls, 93 Women|
|[TheAge.au] Nigeria's military is claiming the rescue of 200 girls and 93 women from a notorious Boko Haram stronghold, but the hostages are not those kidnapped from Chibok a year ago.|
"Troops have captured & destroyed three camps of terrorists inside the Sambisa forest & rescued 200 girls & 93 women," defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a text message, referring to the area in northeast Borno state where the Islamists have bases.
Following news of the rescue, Colonel Sani Usman sought to clarify that the rescued hostages were not the same group of girls whose plight unchained the #BringBackOurGirls global campaign.
"They were not, however, from Chibok, the village from which more than 200 girls were abducted in April 2014," he told Reuters in a text message.
Boko Haram claimed the abduction of 276 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, also in Borno, on April 14 last year. Fifty-seven girls escaped within hours of the attack but 219 remained in captivity. At the anniversary of their abduction, Nigeria's president-elect Muhammadu Buhari admitted it may never be possible to find the group.
In the weeks following the mass abduction, Nigerian security sources and locals in Borno said there were indications the girls had been taken to the Sambisa Forest. But defence officials and experts agreed that they were likely separated over the last 13 months, casting significant doubt on the possibility that they were being held together as a group.
Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, vowed to "marry them off" or sell them as "slaves."
The Chibok attack brought unprecedented world attention to the Nigeria's Islamist uprising. Celebrities and prominent personalities including US First Lady Michelle Obama joined the Twitter campaign #BringBackOurGirls that attracted supporters worldwide. Pakistani activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai voiced a heartfelt letter to the missing girls earlier this month.
But Boko Haram has also been blamed for hundreds of other kidnappings, especially targeting women and girls across northeast Nigeria. There is no indication of when the freed hostages were first taken.
The rescued girls and women will be screened on Wednesday to determine whether they had been abducted or if they were married to the militants, one intelligence source told Reuters.
"Now they are excited about their freedom," he said. "Tomorrow there will be screenings to determine whether they are Boko Haram wives, whether they are from Chibok, how long they have been in the camps, and if they have children."
Some of the girls were injured, and some of the militants killed, he said without giving more details.
The group was rescued from camps "discovered near or on the way to Sambisa," one army official said.
Nigerian forces backed by warplanes invaded the vast former colonial game reserve late last week as part of a push to win back territory from Boko Haram.
The group, notorious for violence against civilians, controlled an area roughly the size of Belgium at the start of the year but has since been beaten back by Nigerian troops, backed by Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
A military source who was in Sambisa told The Associated Press that some of the women rescued Tuesday fought back, and that Boko Haram was using armed women as human shields, putting them as their first line of defense.
The Nigerian troops managed to subdue them and rounded them all up, and some said they were forced to fight for Boko Haram, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Boko Haram also has used girls and women as suicide bombers, sending them into crowded market places and elsewhere.
|Boko Haram: Troops take over Alagarno, dislodge sect|
|[Nigerian Tribune] BOKO Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, may have been on the run as troops from the Seventh Division of the Nigerian Army have killed dozens of in Alagarno village and neighboring communities in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State.|
The development was recorded in a battle that lasted for over 48 hours, according to locals who fled the area to Maiduguri, the state capital.