Ahmad Salkida, a Nigerian journalist and conflict analyst, who is said to have access to the leadership of Boko Haram, has reacted to the sect’s reported allegiance to the Islamic State.
According to him, the sect’s widely reported allegiance (or Bay’ah) to the Islamic State is said to be the result of a long drawn deliberation within and outside the group on its ideology, The Cable reports.
A source with links to the insurgents explained that with this allegiance, the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, could be replaced as Abubakar al-Bagdadi, the leader of ISIS and world’s most wanted jihadist, will now be making decisions for the sect.
“The sect has expressed support to IS in the past but not Bay’ah in this formal sense, as Islam prescribed.
“As long as Muslims pledged allegiance to a leader, he must accept it. In fact, it was long overdue. What this also means is Abubakar al-Bagdadi will henceforth take decision for the insurgents. Shekau’s self-governance has ended on Saturday, the 7th of March 2015,” the source said.
Multiple sources claim that the emissaries of al-Bagdadi are already in the country and are already making a lot of changes, adding that al-Baghdadi may choose to even change the Imam in Nigeria if he so wishes or send permanent emissaries or teachers to guide what is now the local Boko Haram Shura.
Explaining the meaning of Bay’ah, the source said according to some Sunni Islamic scholars, Bay’ah can only be offered to the leader of the Muslims. Once allegiance is offered, as in the case of Boko Haram to IS, it is accepted because the leader that is being offered Bay’ah assumes total and absolute authority over his subjects, except these subjects were to discover that the actions of the leader contradicted their kind of beliefs.
In recent times, Nigerian troops and multinational forces have intensified attacks on Boko Haram and many are of the opinion that the sect is getting weak and that is why they have reached out to IS to reinforce its bonds with other groups and individuals in the region, and save itself from drowning.
According to Salkida, inside assessment has revealed that there is a difference between taking back Boko Haram territories and defeating the group’s terror network with its roots in many parts of the region. Defeating the group’s terror network would require deep, strategic and consistent institutional framework.
Another cause of apprehension is that both Chad and Niger that joined forces with Nigeria against the sect on Sunday share direct borderlines with Libya, the most powerful arm of IS outside of Iraq and Syria. But IS is not only in Iraq, Syria or Libya, it’s an ideology that may be found in unexpected places.
“For now, many in West Africa have every cause to be anxious by the new Boko Haram and IS alliance. In the absence of any intelligence breakthrough that may reveal the slightest clue on the following: who are Boko Haram’s current leaders? How many are they? What are their names? Where are they located? How are decisions taken within the group? What is their actual source of funding? How many cells do they operate outside the main war combatants? People in the region can be certain of more bloody surprises ahead.
"If our intelligence community for years were repeatedly confused about whether or not Shekau was alive, his whereabouts, and were misled into believing bogus ceasefires and false alarms over the release of abducted girls, how can people trust the same security community with their borders?” he queried.
The reported Boko Haram and ISIS collaboration has caused quite a stir, though some have described it as propaganda. The United States government has however waded into the matter. A US congressman, Stephen F. Lynch, arrived in Nigeria on Wednesday, and is expected to meet with American security and counter-terrorism personnel in the US Embassy in Nigeria.