Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a new audio message believed to be recorded by the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau.
In the recording, a man identifying himself as Shekau vowed to follow Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and urged Muslims everywhere to pledge allegiance to the caliph, according to SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based organization, USA Today reported.
“We announce our allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims … and will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity, in hardship and ease, and to endure being discriminated against, and not to dispute about rule with those in power, except in case of evident infidelity regarding that which there is a proof from Allah,” Shekau said in a tweeted message that went along with the video, according to The Associated Press.
The message, which was posted Saturday on Boko Haram social media accounts, was confirmed by Flashpoint Intelligence, a global security firm and NBC News consultant.
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has not yet responded to the message, but Laith Alkhouri, director of MENA research and analysis at Flashpoint, said it is likely Boko Haram would be accepted.
“Boko Haram is not only one of the strongest groups to support ISIS, it’s also in [an] area ISIS has very little, if any, control,” Mr. Alkhouri told NBC News. “This gives ISIS the extra credibility and the additional territory to further its growth around the world.”
Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence Group, added, “Boko Haram is now being elevated from a local jihadi group to an important arm of the Islamic State.”
On Sunday, hundreds of troops from Chad and Niger launched an offensive against Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, CNN reported.
“Early this morning, troops from Niger and Chad launched ground and air raids against Boko Haram into Nigeria, and the operation is still continuing,” said a military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, CNN reported. “It is an intensive operation that is aimed at pulverizing Boko Haram and crippling their capability.”
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language, is responsible for kidnapping hundreds of schoolgirls last year, killing thousands and causing nearly 1.2 million to flee northeastern Nigeria.