Boko Haram’s factional leader, Abubakar Shekau, has re-emerged in a new video after a long absence that fuelled speculation about his health and ability to lead the Islamist militants.
In a 36-minute message, released to the media through Ahmad Salkida, the Nigerian journalist with very deep knowledge of Boko Haram’s workings, Shekau looked unwell but made no reference to his health condition.
He, however, urged his fighters to adhere strictly to the tenets of Islam if they wish to be victorious over the “infidels”.
He stated that he decided to appear in the video after numerous requests by his followers to do so.
Shekau delivered a long, incoherent speech about the group’s doctrine of who is a believer and who’s not, adding that the loss of ground being witnessed by his group was a consequence of the failure of members to adhere to the teachings of Islam.
He said: “Anything that befalls a Muslim, it is Muslims that caused it. There is no way infidels will triumph over the faithful except if they have strayed in the faith.
“Dear brethren, you should recognise that this war we are waging is not new; this is a war that has been raging for a long time. Therefore, anybody that fights because of Allah alone will never witness defeat.”
He prayed to Allah to free their Muslim brothers in various prisons, asking: “How can we go to sleep, eat and drink if our Muslim brothers are being humiliated in prisons like Guantanamo, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Somali, Iraq, Sham and Yemen among other places?”
The jihadist leader used to appear frequently on camera but was last seen in a 14-minute video message on February 6, in which he claimed responsibility for attacks in the northeast region.
In May 2017, Shekau looked frail and appeared to have difficulty reading from a prepared speech, which he held close to his face in an apparent indication of vision problems.