Maiduguri, Nigeria – The enigmatic leader of Boko Haram, Abubakr Shekau, has released yet another video full of 25 minutes of fire and brimstone, with demands of swift, bloody retaliation against Nigerian forces ands its citizens. This latest video comes just days after the Nigerian Army claimed victory against the insurgent group by destroying Boko Haram’s stronghold in the Sambisa Forest on the outskirts of the city of Maiduguri, located in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State.
On December 22nd, troops from the Nigerian Army, along with a local militia known as the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) of Maiduguri, conducted a full-on assault against what Nigerian intelligence called ‘Camp Zairo.’ This camp was the last of Boko Haram’s major strongholds and the headquarters for the terrorist group’s leader, Abubakr Shekau. The sweep-and-clear mission named ‘Operation LAFIYA DOLE’ successfully combined air and ground forces. The Nigerian forces, along with the CJTF, executed a coordinated assault following an intense artillery barrage onto Camp Zairo, sending Boko Haram fighters scattering in a desperate attempt to counter the early morning raid—to no avail. The Nigerian assault force proved too overwhelming, and what was left of the Boko Haram fighters, and apparently their leader, ran off into the Sambisa, allowing the Nigerian troops to capture its de facto headquarters. The Nigerian government heralded this as an overwhelming victory and a crushing blow to Boko Haram.
Abubakr Shekau, however, didn’t see it that way. On the 29th of December, he took the Nigerian government and its citizenry to task in his latest 25 minute-long diatribe. “I am here, well, and alive,” he said. “The battle is just beginning.” The video is likely his way of providing proof of life, as his death has been reported at least three times prior to this latest incursion by Nigerian forces. The Boko Haram leader went on to issue fiery demands to his jihadi faithful, including, “Kill all the infidels and detonate bombs everywhere.” He added grisly detail to the order by clarifying, “Yes! I want you to kill, slaughter and abduct.” Abubakr Shekau’s threats of retaliation were aimed broadly toward the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, down to the innocent citizens of Nigeria.
If this latest threat is making any ripples within the Nigerian government, they are not showing it. Just two days after the video aired, President Buhari held a press conference where he congratulated the Nigerian Army forces in the success of Operation LAFIYA DOLE and its commanders. As if to add insult to injury, Buhari happily received the Boko Haram leader’s personal copy of the Qur’an and the terrorist group’s main battle flag as trophies from the successful operation.
Handing over the flag to the president, General Lucky Irabor, the commanding general of the operation who eventually took charge of the Boko Haram stronghold “Camp Zairo,” disclosed that about 1,240 suspected Boko Haram terrorists were arrested during a mop-up operation by troops inside the Sambisa Forest. Irabor claimed that those Boko Haram fighters were detained and are currently being interrogated.
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press
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