- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 24, 2014

A northeast Nigerian town seized earlier this month by Boko Haram militants has been placed under an Islamic caliphate, the group’s leader said.

“Thanks be to Allah, who gave victory to our brethren in (the town of) Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate,” Abubakar Shekau says in a 52-minute video obtained by the Agence France-Presse. “By the grace of Allah, we will not leave the town. We have come to stay.”

In the video, Mr. Shekau lauds the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who in late June declared himself “the caliph” and “leader of Muslims everywhere,” AFP reported.

It was not clear, however, if Mr. Shekau was declaring himself to be a part of Mr. Baghdadi’s caliphate or if he was referring to a separate caliphate in Nigeria.

In addition to Gwoza, Boko Haram is believed to be in control of large swathes of territory in Borno state and at least one town in neighboring Yobe state, AFP reported.

Experts said Boko Haram is closer than ever to achieving its goal of forming an Islamic state across northern Nigeria.

The Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, declared a caliphate in June after capturing vast swathes of land in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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