NIGERIA – In a video released on Saturday, the leader of an Islamic terrorist group vowed to attack Christians and threatened to mutilate and decapitate victims.
Abubakar Shekau is the leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram, a group that seeks to force Sharia law upon Nigerians. For several years, Boko Haram jihadists have wreaked havoc in northern Nigeria, with thousands of Nigerians displaced from their homes.
Boko Haram fighters are particularly hostile toward Christians in Nigeria; according to reports, over 700 Christian Nigerians have been killed in 2013 alone due to Boko Haram-related violence. As recently as Saturday, twelve people died when Boko Haram insurgents opened fire during a wedding ceremony in the predominantly Christian village of Tashan Alade.
In Shekau’s video, which was emailed to several journalists, he claimed responsibility for a December 20th attack on Nigerian tank battalion barracks, but credits Allah with the success of the assault.
“Our fighters stormed [the military barracks],” he stated. “Allah threw [the troops] into confusion through some servants of Allah who dedicated themselves to Allah. … It is in the same [barracks] that our brothers pulverized 21 armored tanks. People in multitudes were killed, bodies scattered all over and the sight would astonish any onlooker. Soldiers hid under blankets in their rooms and our fighters pursued them and blew out their brains.”
Then Shekau claimed his men would have eaten their victims’ bodies, if commanded.
“Had Allah allowed us to eat them we would have eaten them,” he said, “but we are not cannibals because we are not spirits or animals. As for killing, we will kill [for] Allah. If he says we should decapitate, we should amputate the limbs, we should mutilate.”
According to the Associated Press, Shekau also scoffed at bounties on his head by the American and Nigerian governments, saying his men’s recent attacks are “just a tip of the iceberg.”
“Even America has placed a $7 million ransom [on my head] if you arrest and take me,” Shekau said, according to African news affiliate This Day Live. “But it is difficult indeed.”
According to reports, Shekau’s statements in the video were frequently interrupted by loud shouts and laughter from Boko Haram militants.
“We are fighting a religious war, we are fighting [the Nigerian president], we are fighting Christians,” he asserted. “If you are not lucky this December, you will not go to your churches or you will celebrate it in fear.”
Mallam Isuwa Hyelkuzuku, a Nigerian who lives in Kwajjafa, said villagers are not surprised by Boko Haram attacks. However, they do not understand the attackers’ rationale.
“We heard on the radio and read in the newspapers that Boko Haram is fighting a religious war—according to their leader, Shekau—and they are targeting Christians,” Hyelkuzuku said, according to UPI. “I don’t know if Christianity or Islam is written on the faces of adherents of the religions. Those killed were not all Christians. If their claim of fighting for Islam is right, what wrong has Christianity done to Islam that they are waging this war?”