On March 7, 2015, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau pledged loyalty (bay`a) to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an Arabic-language statement with English and French subtitles posted on Boko Haram’s official Twitter account, al-Urhwa al-Wutqha.[1] Several days after this, the Islamic State posted videos of militants celebrating Shekau’s bay`a in Syria, Libya, and the new “Wilayat Euphrates” on the Iraq-Syria border, and the Islamic State’s spokesman announced that “the Caliph” accepted Shekau’s bay`a and called on Muslims to “emigrate and join your brothers in West Africa.”[2] Although Shekau’s bay`a and its acceptance was seen as a surprise in some analyst and foreign policy circles, the trendlines for a Boko Haram-Islamic State merger were evident since at least July 2014, and the merger followed the strategic trajectory of both militant groups.[3]

This article traces Boko Haram from its founding in 2002 until Shekau’s bay`a to al-Baghdadi in 2015. It argues that Boko Haram’s merger with the Islamic State was consistent with a broader transnational trend whereby militants formerly loyal to al-Qa`ida have switched sides in favor of the more youthful, social media-savvy, and territorial-focused Islamic State. Specifically, in Boko Haram’s case, militants formerly in the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) and its successor organization, al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), established the contacts necessary to achieve the Boko Haram-Islamic State merger.

In the final section, the article discusses some of the likely outcomes of the Boko Haram-Islamic State merger and suggests that Boko Haram is well-placed to evolve into a revamped “Islamic State version” of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) that is capable of competing for a recruiting pool in an area of operations spanning from Nigeria to Libya.

Boko Haram’s Biography
2002-2009: Ideological Foundations of the Islamic State
The founder of Boko Haram in 2002 was Borno, Nigeria native Muhammed Yusuf. He preached that there were “four pure salafists” that Muslims should follow: Usama bin Laden (al-Qa`ida founder), the Taliban (first group to establish an “Islamic Emirate” in the post-Caliphate era), Sayyid Qutb (Egyptian Islamist ideologue who advocated for an Islamic state), and Ibn Taymiya (“godfather” of salafism).[4] Yusuf’s third-in-command, the Cameroonian Mamman Nur, may have had a more regional perspective. He cited the fall of Usman dan Fodio’s Sokoto Caliphate in West Africa in 1904 as the cause of the poverty and suffering of Muslims.[5] Yusuf, Nur, and Shekau, who was Yusuf’s deputy, all agreed that Nigeria—the country where they lived and that shaped their worldview—was illegitimate because it was not an Islamic state.

2009-2011: Al-Qa`ida’s Shadow in Nigeria
The Nigerian security forces killed Yusuf and nearly 1,000 Boko Haram members in a series of clashes in July 2009.[6] Shekau assumed leadership and in July 2010 declared a jihad against Nigeria and the United States in a statement that was nearly identical in rhetoric and syntax to al-Qa`ida statements, which suggests that al-Qa`ida may have responded to Boko Haram’s public requests for media guidance and assisted in drafting Shekau’s script.[7] AQIM, the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) (which was an al-Qa`ida affiliate but later evolved into the Islamic State), and al-Shabab also offered condolences to Boko Haram after Yusuf’s death.[8]

In September 2010, Boko Haram carried out its first coordinated attacks, and in June 2011 and August 2011, Mamman Nur, who received training from AQIM and al-Shabab, masterminded the first suicide vehicle-bombings in Nigeria’s history at the Federal Police Headquarters and United Nations Headquarters in Abuja.[9] Throughout 2011 and 2012, Nur’s network coordinated more than 20 suicide attacks in northwestern Nigeria, while Shekau’s followers launched a guerilla-style insurgency in northeastern Nigeria. Nur, who lost a power struggle to succeed Yusuf, likely allowed Shekau and his spokesmen to claim all attacks.[10]

In 2012, a new militant group formed in northwestern Nigeria called Ansaru, which differed from Boko Haram ideologically, tactically, and geographically by following al-Qa`ida’s manhaj (rejecting takfiri ideology and the killing of Muslims), focusing on kidnappings and ambushes like AQIM, and operating almost exclusively in the Middle Belt and northwestern Nigeria. Ansaru venerated the late Muhammed Yusuf, and was able to attract defectors from Shekau’s faction and other mid-level recruits from Nigeria.[11]

Ansaru’s leadership council (shura) appeared to feature three main networks, two of which were transnational networks.

The first Ansaru network was the “GSPC network,” which included Nigerians, such as Yusuf’s close associate and U.S.-designated terrorist, Khalid al-Barnawi, who were GSPC militants but strayed from AQIM after AQIM succeeded the GSPC in 2007. They did so in order to operate independent of AQIM’s bureaucratic oversight and focus on kidnappings and criminal activities in the southern Sahel.[12] Al-Barnawi and others in his network carried out one of the GSPC’s most famous attacks on Mauritanian soldiers at Lemgheity barracks in 2005 with militants such as al-Barnawi’s longtime comrade, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, and a commander who later joined al-Qa`ida’s External Operations Unit in Pakistan, Yunis al-Mauritani (non-Nigerian West Africans who were also involved in the Lemgheity attack, such as former GSPC recruiter of sub-Saharan Africans, the Mauritanian Hamadou al-Kheiry, and Belmokhtar’s relative, the Malian Oumar ould Hamaha, formed MUJAO at roughly the same time as Ansaru’s formation in 2011).[13]

The second Ansaru network was the “AQIM network,” which included Nigerians who were AQIM militants or were trained and funded by AQIM (or jointly with AQIM and al-Shabab), such as Mamman Nur and two of Yusuf’s other associates, U.S.-designated terrorist Adam Kambar, who facilitated trainings for Nigerians in Mali and was in contact with al-Qa`ida Central in Pakistan (possibly via Yunus al-Mauritani), and suicide vehicle-bombing financier and mastermind Kabiru Sokoto.[14]

The third Ansaru network was the “Middle Belt network,” which included mid-level recruits who supported the more experienced “GSPC network” and “AQIM network” masterminds and were often aggrieved Nigerian Muslims from states that experienced Muslim-Christian violence.

2012-2013: GSPC and AQIM Networks Merge with Boko Haram
After the “GSPC network’s” first kidnapping and killing of a British and an Italian engineer in Sokoto in March 2012, al-Barnawi reportedly traveled to AQIM and MUJAO-controlled northern Mali.[15] In November 2012, he may have connected with his former GSPC comrades, including MUJAO leaders Hamadou al-Kheiry, who in 2014 pledged bay`a to al-Baghdadi, and Oumar ould Hamaha.[16] Al-Barnawi may also have met with Belmokhtar, who was reportedly in Gao with some Ansaru militants, and Shekau, who reportedly escaped from Kano, Nigeria to northern Mali in 2012 and formed an alliance there with al-Barnawi.[17]

Al-Barnawi and Shekau may have agreed for Shekau’s faction to be responsible for most of Yobe and Borno States in Nigeria, while al-Barnawi’s faction, now also known as Harakat al-Muhajirin, would operate in northern Cameroon and northern Borno and along the logistics routes from Libya through Niger, Chad, and Cameroon that supplied Boko Haram in Nigeria.[18] Al-Barnawi, like Nur, likely gave Boko Haram credit for his own faction’s raids on military barracks in northern Borno and kidnappings-for-ransoms of dozens of Nigerian officials and more than 15 foreigners in Cameroon in 2013-2014, which funded Boko Haram’s operations.[19] Harakat al-Muhajirin likely also featured Shekau look-alikes in propaganda videos when the communication lines to Shekau were delayed or cut, such as in the split-screen video with the kidnapped seven-member French Moulin-Fournier family in February 2013 and possibly also the May 5, 2014 video of “Shekau” announcing that he kidnapped more than 250 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria.[20]

With al-Barnawi outside of Nigeria, Ansaru’s “AQIM network” kidnapped eight foreign engineers in two operations in Katsina and Bauchi, ambushed Mali-bound Nigerian troops south of Abuja, and broke into a prison in Abuja to free Boko Haram members (another kidnapping and killing of a German engineer in Kano was claimed directly by AQIM and likely coordinated with al-Qa`ida’s External Operations Unit).[21] The “AQIM network” also issued relatively high quality propaganda videos and statements claiming these attacks.[22] Yet the praise of the prison break in Abuja came in the prologue of a November 2012 Boko Haram video statement from Shekau called “Glad Tidings to the Soldiers of the Islamic State in Mali,” which was likely filmed in Mali and, based on the syntax, written by AQIM or MUJAO. It included praise of ISI founders Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Omar al-Baghdadi (al-Baghdadi’s predecessors), and may have been one of the first signs of the developing merger between Shekau’s faction and Ansaru’s “GSPC network” and the “AQIM network.”[23] However, Boko Haram only first announced that it “coordinated” an operation with Ansaru remnants when it kidnapped a French priest in Cameroon in November 2013.[24]

Ansaru’s “AQIM network” likely disbanded as a result of the Nigerian security forces’ raid on its shura in Kaduna in 2012 and the French-led intervention in northern Mali in early 2013, which severed the “AQIM network’s” contacts to MUJAO militants in northern Mali, as well as Belmokhtar’s new al-Mourabitun Brigade, which incorporated MUJAO and Ansaru members.[25] Key Ansaru supporters, such as MUJAO’s Oumar ould Hamaha, and trainers, such as AQIM southern command’s Abu Zeid, and their couriers to Boko Haram, such as the Beninese Abdullah Abdullah and Mauritanian Hacene Ould Khalil (alias Jouleibib), were killed. Belmokhtar reportedly retreated to Libya, and one of his main recruiters of Boko Haram members, Beleid Abdel Salam, was captured in Algeria.[26] The “AQIM network’s” isolation likely expedited its reintegration with Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, even though some militants, like their former AQIM patrons, may have disagreed with Shekau’s takfiri ideology and been reluctant to accept his overall leadership.[27]

Meanwhile, the “Middle Belt network” of Ansaru lost virtually all of its connections to AQIM and MUJAO, but continued to carry out attacks in Ansaru’s name on military checkpoints outside of Boko Haram’s area of operations in Jos and Bauchi. It may also have continued to coordinate kidnappings and other operations with Harakat al-Muhajirin in Cameroon and northern Adamawa State in Nigeria.[28] Nonetheless, once Ansaru’s “GSPC network” and “AQIM network” reintegrated with Boko Haram, the “Middle Belt network” effectively became the only network using the Ansaru name.

2014-2015: Former AQIM Network Sets Stage for the Boko Haram-Islamic State Merger
The key factor that set the stage for the Boko Haram-Islamic State merger was the reintegration of Ansaru’s “GSPC network” and “AQIM network” into Boko Haram. The longstanding contacts those two networks maintained with North African former AQIM militants who abandoned AQIM in favor of the Islamic State in Syria and Libya may have facilitated the dialogue that was necessary to establish Boko Haram’s merger with the Islamic State. For example, AQIM-turned-Islamic State member in Syria, Abu Malik Shaybah al-Hamad, who was the main promoter of Boko Haram’s al-Urhwa al-Wutqha Twitter account, which Boko Haram launched as its “official mouthpiece” on January 19, 2015 and used to host Shekau’s bay`a statement on May 7, featured trailers of al-Urhwa al-Wutqha videos on his own Twitter account before their release on al-Urhwa al-Wutqha. This suggested al-Hamad had inside knowledge about Boko Haram media and direct connections to Boko Haram’s media producers, who likely received media production and social media dissemination guidance from the Islamic State. Several Boko Haram videos on al-Urwqa al-Wutqha, for example, featured the distinct introductory “tasmiya,” choreography, graphics, lens angles, and special effects of Islamic State videos, including those of British hostage-turned-Islamic State journalist John Cantlie in Aleppo, Syria and the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya.[29]

There were other examples of Boko Haram collaboration with the Islamic State on al-Urhwa al-Wutqha that suggested that former Ansaru members were paving the way for Boko Haram’s formal relationship with the Islamic State.  A video called “Message from a Mujahid,” which took the name of an Islamic State video series and referred to Boko Haram-controlled territories as the “Islamic State in West Africa,” featured an interview of a Boko Haram militant on the Nigeria-Cameroon border regretting Muslim civilian deaths, which echoed the message of militants from Ansaru (and possibly also Harakat al-Muhajirin) in videos and statements in 2012 and 2013.[30]

Other al-Urhwa al-Wutqha videos, including an interview of new Boko Haram spokesman Abu Musab al-Barnawi (likely a pseudonym in deference to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi), featured the distinct optics of some Ansaru videos from 2012, including men wearing veils, an office setting, multi-lingual translation, and an overall professional media style, especially in comparison to Shekau’s videos at that time. It is possible that the “AQIM faction” of Ansaru that re-integrated with Boko Haram collaborated with the Islamic State on video production and used al-Urhwa al-Wutqha in January and February 2015 to create a mass social media platform in preparation for Shekau’s bay`a to al-Baghdadi on March 7, 2015. In this regard, former AQIM members now affiliated with the Islamic State may have provided strategic media guidance to Boko Haram through their comrades in the reintegrated “AQIM network” in a similar way that they guided Shekau’s first script in 2010 and again in Mali in 2012.

While the Islamic State may have had some of the same concerns as AQIM had in previous years about Shekau’s erratic persona and Boko Haram’s factionalization, the reintegration of the “GSPC network” and “AQIM network” into Boko Haram’s ranks likely provided reassurance to the Islamic State that Boko Haram had come to a consensus behind Shekau as the leader. Moreover, Boko Haram’s announcement on al-Urhwa al-Wutqha of a new “General Command” on February 15, 2015, and al-Urwha al-Wutqha’s featuring of a composed, professional, and more mature Shekau giving a speech threatening Benin, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria on February 27, 2015, likely confirmed to the Islamic State that Shekau was the sole Boko Haram leader and that he could comport himself in a way consistent with Islamic State propaganda. This likely fulfilled one of the requirements from Boko Haram’s side for the merger with the Islamic State. These requirements were detailed in the Islamic State’s online magazine, Dabiq 5, in October 2014, where it said that the announcement of new wilayas (states), including in Nigeria and four other locations (Caucasus, Khorasan, Indonesia and Philippines), would be delayed until the Islamic State apppointed a leader who could pledge bay`a and have a direct line of communication to al-Baghdadi.  It therefore may have been the Islamic State media assistants to al-Urhwa al-Wutqha who finally decided that Shekau was a suitable enough leader to make the pledge to al-Baghdadi, and they may have connected directly with Shekau via the former Ansaru “AQIM faction.” These Islamic State media assistants then featured Shekau on al-Urhwa al-Wutqha for the first time on February 27, 2015 (and again on March 7 for the bay`a), after 40 days of running al-Urhwa al-Wutqha as Boko Haram’s “official mouthpiece” but, oddly, not mentioning Shekau or any other leader once during that timeframe.

Outcomes of the Boko Haram-Islamic State Merger
The Islamic State’s announcement of a “Caliphate” and its desire to expand to Africa and promote a new “wilaya West Africa” on equal footing with other wilayas already announced enabled Boko Haram to achieve the goal it identified at the time of its founding in 2002: the creation, or joining, of an Islamic state that was legitimated by other “pure salafists.” The Islamic State could provide for Boko Haram what al-Qa`ida and its affiliates could not, given the preference of al-Qa`ida’s leadership, specifically Usama bin Laden, to avoid state formation in the near-term.

Moreover, while al-Qa`ida Central’s leadership rarely showed interest in Boko Haram, or Shekau (although it may have Mamman Nur), especially after bin Laden’s death and the arrest of Yunus al-Mauritani in Pakistan in 2011, the Islamic State has elevated Shekau’s stature and legitimacy in the international jihadist arena and reaffirmed his role as Boko Haram’s sole leader with respect to other factions in Nigeria and West Africa.[31] This is an additional reason why Shekau may have been willing to pledge bay`a and subordinate himself to al-Baghdadi in a way that he never did with al-Qa`ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. In addition, Shekau’s former rivals who were in Ansaru’s “GSPC network” and “AQIM network” before reintegrating with Boko Haram may consider Shekau’s bay`a a victory in that for the first time since Shekau succeeded Yusuf in 2010, his power is under the authority of another leader, which could keep Shekau in check. The re-emergence of Muhammed Yusuf’s (“Yusuf al-Nigeri”) sermons and scripts in Boko Haram videos on al-Urhwa al-Urhwa could, for example, serve as a reminder to Boko Haram that Shekau is once again not the primary leader.

The timing of the announcement of the Boko Haram-Islamic State merger was also likely opportune for Boko Haram. It came at a time when Boko Haram was facing setbacks in the wake of a large-scale military offensive by Nigeria and neighboring countries that was launched in February 2015. The offensive forced Boko Haram to abandon territories it had controlled in northeastern Nigeria since mid-2014. In this regard, if Boko Haram is defeated or scatters, the merger could prove to be a setback for Islamic State propaganda and its efforts to portray the Islamic State as “remaining and expanding.”

The Islamic State may, however, hedge against this in two ways. First, the Islamic State may encourage Boko Haram to activate its sleeper-cells in northwestern Nigeria and carry out a major attack on foreigners that would garner international media attention, similar to the Islamic State’s attack on Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, Libya, or Belmokhtar’s attack at a night club in Bamako, Mali on the same day that Shekau pledged bay`a to al-Baghdadi on March 7.[32] This type of attack would overshadow Boko Haram’s struggles on the battlefield.

Second, the Islamic State’s media support to Boko Haram may be preparing Boko Haram for a “retreat” from Nigeria into areas deeper in the Sahel, where various supporting networks are active. Boko Haram’s new French language propaganda on al-Urhwa al-Wutqha and the Islamic State’s encouragement of Tuaregs, Toubous, and other West Africans, including in the diaspora in Europe, to “migrate” to join Boko Haram in “West Africa” would allow Boko Haram to recruit youths who are intellectually inspired by the Islamic State from areas well beyond Nigeria and the Lake Chad sub-region.

The re-branding of Boko Haram as “wilaya West Africa” and the professionalization of its media, to include the taming of Shekau’s persona, may allow Boko Haram to shed its “Boko Haram” moniker, which it always rejected and considered derogatory. In addition, the new “wilaya West Africa” may appeal to a wealthier class of recruits inspired by the notion of a Caliphate, as opposed to the poor al-majiri boys who, lacking any greater purpose other than an attraction to Shekau’s “small boy-turned-Oga” self-narrative, have joined Boko Haram simply to pillage. The former Nigerian Chief Justice’s son’s “migration” to Syria with his family several weeks before Shekau’s bay`a has already raised concerns about wealthy and educated people joining the Islamic State and its growing regional affiliates.

Boko Haram’s merger with the Islamic State and Shekau’s pledge to al-Baghdadi likely do not reflect a sudden tactical decision to affiliate with the Islamic State. Rather, the signs that Boko Haram would desire a merger of this type to legitimate its long-envisioned Islamic state in Nigeria or West Africa were apparent as early as Boko Haram’s founding in 2002. Al-Baghdadi’s declaration of the Islamic State in June 2014 provided Boko Haram the opportunity to turn this goal into a reality. Al-Baghdadi’s declaration was followed by Shekau’s first statement of “support” for al-Baghdadi in July 2014 and Shekau’s own declaration at that time of an “Islamic State” in northeastern Nigeria. Boko Haram then began using the Islamic State’s nasheeds, black flag, black clothing, and other Islamic State symbols and choreography in its videos from July 2014 until the launch of the more formal relationship with the Islamic State via al-Urhwa al-Wutqha in January 2015. This suggests that even if part of Boko Haram’s motivation may have been an opportunistic desire for financial or other benefits resulting from “supporting” al-Baghdadi, the organization’s history and evolution suggests that the merger with the Islamic State was a strategic, calculated, and long-term decision coming from the top of the Boko Haram leadership and communications structure.

Jacob Zenn is an analyst of African and Eurasian Affairs for The Jamestown Foundation in Washington DC and an expert on countering violent extremism for think-tanks and international organizations in West Africa and Central Asia. Mr. Zenn is the author of “Northern Nigeria’s Boko Haram: The Prize in al-Qaeda’s Africa Strategy,” which was published by The Jamestown Foundation in 2012, and in November 2013 he provided testimony to the U.S. Congress on “The Continuing Threat of Boko Haram and Ansaru.” He writes in his capacity as an independent expert and his views do not engage any of the policies or positions of current institutional clients.

[1] Al-Urhwa al-Wutqha means “Indissoluble Link” in Arabic and is named after a 1880s Islamist newspaper in Paris. Boko Haram and the Islamic State may have chosen this name because its launch coincided with the Charlie Hebdo attack. The account was set up after the attack, which Shekau praised in a video on January 16, 2015.”Jama’at _Ahl_al-Sunnah_lil-Da’wah_wal-Jihad_Pledges_Allegiance_to_Caliph_of_the_Muslims_Abu-Bakr_al-Baghdadi” @urwa_wutqa, Twitter, March 7, 2015; Abubakar Shekau, Faran Cikin Da Abunda Ya Samu Faransa, YouTube, January 16, 2015.

[2] Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, “So They Slay and Are Slain,” Al-Furqan Establishment for Media Production via “Abu-Ali al-Janubi” (@aljanub95), March 12, 2015; “New video message from The Islamic State: The Allegiances Are Coming and the Joys to the Brothers in Nigeria – Wilāyat al-Furāt”, YouTube, March 16, 2015; “New video message from The Islamic State: “Pleasure of the Muslims With the Bay’ah of Their Brothers in Nigeria – Wilāyat al-Barakah”, archive.org, March 16, 2015.

[3] Jacob Zenn, “Boko Haram Opens New Fronts in Lagos and Nigeria’s Middle Belt”, Terrorism Monitor, July 25, 2014.

[4] “Tahirin Musilminai” (History of Muslims), YouTube, undated.

[5] “MOHD Nur & Yusuf.3gp,” YouTube, undated; “Mallam Abubakar Shekau,” YouTube, undated.

[6] “Boko Haram Leader, Yusuf, Killed,” Vanguard, July 30, 2009.

[7] “Periodical Review July 2010 – No. 2,” ICT’s Jihadi Websites Monitoring Group, August 2010; SITE Staff, “Boko Haram Representative Solicits Guidance and Assistance on Jihadist Forums,” Insite Blog, December 2012.

[8] “Al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb: Condolence, Support and Comfort for our Brothers and People in Nigeria 20/08/09,” www.ansar1.info, February 1, 2010; “Al Kataib Media People of Tawheed in Nigeria 2.mp4,” YouTube, March 12, 2012; “Knights of Martyrdom 8” Video Dedicated to Nigerian Muslims, al-Furqan Foundation, September 22, 2011.

[9] Jide Ajani, “UN House Blast: Mastermind, Nur, Declared Wanted,” Vanguard, September 1, 2011; UN House: Boko Haram Unveils Suicide Bomber,” This Day, September 19, 2011; Michael Olugbode, “Boko Haram Claims Killings in Borno,” ThisDayLive, September 22, 2010.

[10] “How Nur, Shekau Run Boko Haram,” Vanguard, September 3, 2011.

[11] “Boko Haram: Splinter Group, Ansaru Emerges,” Vanguard, February 1, 2012.; “Another Islamic Sect Emerges to Counter Boko Haram?” Desert Herald, June 2, 2012;“Boko Haram: Six Killed in Factional Clash,” ThisDayLive, February 3, 2012.

[12] William McCants, “How Zawahiri Lost al Qaeda,” Foreign Affairs, November 19, 2013.

[13] “Exclusif…Mort des deux otages occidentaux tués au Nigeria: Une source d’AQMI livre quelques details,” Agence Nouakchott d’Information, March 10, 2012; “Bin Laden Files Show al-Qaida and Taliban Leaders in Close Contact,” Guardian, April 29, 2012; “Taking the Hostage Road,” Africa Confidential, March 15, 2013; “Barnawi, Kambar: Qaeda-linked Militants with Boko Haram Ties,” Agence France-Presse, June 21, 2012; Aboul Maaly, “Entretien exclusif avec Khaled Abou Al-Abass, alias ‘Belaouar’: ‘L’armée de Ould Abdel Aziz au Mali n’a jamais été un obstacle devant nous pour arriver à nos objectifs en Mauritanie,’” Agence Nouakchott d’Information, November 9, 2011; “Leader of Tawhid and Jihad to Alakhbar: ‘Our Movement is an Evolution of, and Not a Split from, al- Qa’ida,” alakhbar.info, April 28, 2012; “New Qaeda Spin-Off Threatens West Africa,” ahram.org.eg, December 22, 2011; “Shaykh Yunis,” thought to be Yunis al- Mauritani, appears in one of the Abbottabad documents, where he is referred to as al-Qa`ida’s “official responsible for external work in Africa and west Asia.” See Harmony Document SOCOM-2012-0000019, page 31.

[14] “Boko Haram Gets Sponsorship from Algeria, FG Tells Court,” Vanguard, May 10, 2013; Lawan Adamu, “The Untold Story of Kabiru Sokoto,” Daily Trust, February 13, 2012; “Kabiru Sokoto Names Boko Haram’s Leaders,” The Nation, February 14, 2012; “Revealed: Wanted Suspect Arrested, Released in 2007,” This Day, September 2, 2011; “Five Nigerians on Terror Charges,” BBC, November 27, 2009; “Exclusive: Boko Haram Targets Julius Berger, Dantata & Sawoe Expatriates,” Premium Times, March 12, 2012; Udumu Kalu, “Al-Qa`ida-Boko Haram Links in Kano Since 2009,” Vanguard, December 24, 2011.

[15] Midat Joseph et al., “Kidnappers – Why We Killed Briton, Italian Hostages,” Leadership, March 13, 2012; “Boko Haram Looks to Mali,” Africa Confidential, November 30, 2012.

[16] Lars Inge Staveland, “New Islamist Group May Be Affiliated With Al-Qa`ida,” Aftenposten, February 22, 2013; “Dozens of Boko Haram Help Mali’s Rebel Seize Gao,” Agence France-Presse, April 9, 2012; Baba Ahmed, “Leader of al-Qaida Unit in Mali Quits AQIM,” Associated Press, December 3, 2012; Lemine Ould M. Salem, “Portrait. On l’appelle ‘Barbe rousse,’” Telquel, January 17, 2013.

[17] Taiwo Adisa, “Shekau, Boko Haram Leader, Escapes Arrest in Kano – Wife Arrested – Security Operatives Probe 2 Top Politicians over Sect’s Funding,” Nigerian Tribune, March 5, 2012.

[18] Fulan Nasrallah, “Short Post And Open Thread,” fulansitrep.wordpress.com, October 4, 2014.

[19] Ola Audu, “How Boko Haram Turned to Kidnapping to Raise Funds in Borno,” Premium Times, May 20, 2013.

[20] For more details on the Moulin-Fournier kidnapping, see section on “Evidence of Ansaru’s Presence in Borno” in Jacob Zenn, “Boko Haram’s Evolving Tactics and Alliances in Nigeria,” CTC Sentinel 6:6 (2013): p. 13; Jacob Zenn, “Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau: Dead, Deposed Or Duplicated?” Militant Leadership Monitor, Volume V, Issue 5, May 2014.

[21] Jacob Zenn, “Nigerian Hostage Situation Indicates Ties Between North African and C. Asian Jihadists,” Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, June 27, 2012.

[22] “Declared of Jama`atu Ansaril Muslimina Fibiladis Sudan Garki II Abuja,” November 30, 2012. Aminu Abubakar, “German Hostage Killed in Nigeria During Rescue Bid,” Agence France-Presse, May 31, 2012; Aminu Abubakar, “Nigeria Detains 5 with ‘Al Qaeda-links’ over German Kidnap,” Agence France-Presse, March 27, 2012. “AQIM network” contributed to attacks that included the kidnapping of a French engineer in Katsina in November 2012, who escaped in 2013, an ambush on Mali-bound Nigerian troops south of Abuja in January 2013, the kidnapping and killing of seven foreign engineers in Bauchi in February 2013, and a prison break that freed Boko Haram members in Abuja in November 2012

[23] Abubakar Shekau, “Glad Tidings, O Soldiers of Allah,” November 29, 2012. Two days after appearing on popular jihadist websites, the video was posted to the Ana al-Muslim network website.

[24] “Boko Haram Holding Kidnapped French Priest,” Vanguard, November 15, 2013; Guibai Guitama, “Cameroun – Libération du père Georges Vandenbeusch: Le négociateur désigné de Boko Haram réclame son argent,” L’Oeil du Sahel, January 6, 2014.

[25] “Le Mujao revendique le double attentat et promet qu’il y en aura d’autres,” Radio France Internationale, May 24, 2013.

[26} Remi Caravol, “Belmokhtar, the Sahelistan Godfather,” Jeune Afrique January 15 – 31, 2015; “Judge’s Absence Stalls Trial of Mali-based Boko Haram Suspect,” Premium Times, May 8, 2013; Adam Nossiter, “New Threat in Nigeria as Militants Split Off,” New York Times, April 23, 2013; “Algerian court sentences Belmokhtar aide to eight years in prison,” Ennahar el-Djadid Online, December 30, 2014.

[27] Abu Mundhir al-Shinqiti, “Question-and-Answer with Abu-al-Mundhir al-Shinqiti: Question Number 7618: Is it Permissible to Target a Regime-Sponsored School That Recruits its Students to the Army After They Complete Their Studies?” Minbar al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, July 18, 2013; “Mallam Abubakar Shekau,” YouTube, undated; “Abul Qaqa Confession Shows Bloodletting and Fear as Instruments of Control Within Boko Haram,” Sahara Reporters, February 6, 2012.

[28] Fulan Nasrallah, “A Break Down Of Current Boko Haram/Yusufiyya Factions And Organizational Structure,” fulansitrep.wordpress.com, October 10, 2014; “Nigerian military kills Boko Haram commander along Jos-Bauchi road – DHQ,” Premium Times, June 21, 2014; “Gunmen attack Bauchi check point, kill one soldier,” Daily Trust, January 18, 2015; “Soldiers kill civilians, raze village in Bauchi,” Premium Times, December 18, 2014.

[29] “British hostage John Cantlie appears in new Isis video,” The Guardian, February 9, 2015; Ian Black, “Isis claim of beheading Egyptian Copts in Libya shows group’s spread,” The Guardian, February 15, 2015; “Introduction to wilayah Borno, al-Urhwa al-Wutqha, February 22, 2015; The Harvest of Spies, al-Urhwa al-Wutqha, March 2, 2015.

[30] “Innocence of the Mujahidin From the Blood of the Innocent Muslims,” Sanam al-Islam Network, May 14, 2013; “Boko Haram Militants Shows Off Weapons ‘Captured’ From An Army Barracks,” Sahara TV, April 29, 2013; Message from a Mujahid, al-Urhwa al-Wutqha, January 29, 2015.

[31] Question-and-answer with Abu-al-Mundhir al-Shinqiti; date not given: “Question Number 7618: “Is it Permissible to Target a Regime-Sponsored School That Recruits its Students to the Army After They Complete Their Studies?”, Minbar al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, July 18, 2013; “Key Al Qaeda agent Younis Al Mauritani captured in Pakistan”, The National, September 25, 2011.

[32] “IS Fighter in ar-Raqqah Advises Boko Haram to Prepare for Attacks Due to its Pledge,” SITE Intelligence, March 17, 2015.

[33] “Exclusive: Ex-Nigerian Chief Justice’s Son Joins Terrorist Group ISIS,” The Will, March 6, 2015.

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