Standing in front of an armoured car, flanked by two fighters, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, demonstrates that in addition to Arabic, Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri, he also speaks English.
“Either you are with us – I mean we are Muslims who are following solid footsteps – or you’re with Obama, François Hollande, George Bush. Bush! Clinton! I forgot not Abraham Lincoln,” he said in footage filmed last year. “Ban Ki-moon and his people generally, any unbeliever … Kill! Kill! Kill!”
Shekau frequently issues similar videos setting out his desire for an Islamic state, to attack the Nigerian government, Muslim and Christian communities and the West.
He emerged as Boko Haram’s leader in 2009 after its founder, Mohamed Yusuf, was killed by Nigerian security forces. Last year, the US State Department offered a reward of £4m for Shekau. They believe he was born in 1965 to 1975 in Yobe in north-east Nigeria near the border with Niger. He is believed to have studied under a cleric and then attended Borno State College of Legal and Islamic Studies.
Shekau appears to have been associated with Boko Haram from its origins in the late Nineties.
Elizabeth Donnelly, a researcher at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, said: “He became the natural successor to Mohamed Yusuf. He has a similar charisma to his predecessor but could be much more extreme in his views. He has a reputation for being controlling and violent.”Reuse content