KANO, Nigeria, April 12 – The suspected leader of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram vowed to fight on in a video message to President Goodluck Jonathan posted on YouTube on Thursday.
However no specific threats are made in the 14-minute clip, unlike in previous messages from Abubakar Shekau, the alleged leader of the main branch of the group blamed for scores of shootings and bombings.
The video’s authenticity could not be confirmed but the speaker, seated between four men with AK-47 rifles and headscarves over their faces, resembled that in other images said to be of Shekau and his voice is similar.
The speaker appeared to refer to recent comments reportedly made by Jonathan, in which the president pledged that security threats will be brought under control by the middle of this year.
“We heard some pronouncements from… Jonathan proclaiming that he will finish us in three months,” the man says in the Hausa language spoken throughout Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.
“Only the person who rebels against his creator will say such (a thing) because no one crushes, save Allah… We are absolutely sure. We believe you can’t do anything to us. Our goal is to be killed on the path of Allah.”
He adds later: “By Allah, there is nothing you can do, because those who preceded you could not do anything despite their boasts.”
Shekau does not mention an Easter Sunday car bombing near a church in the northern city of Kaduna that left at least 41 people dead, in the video message recorded on an unspecified date.
The Easter bombing was a reminder of previous anti-Christian violence. On Christmas Day attacks claimed by Boko Haram killed dozens, with the deadliest attack at a church near the capital Abuja.
A number of high-profile arrests and raids have been carried out against Boko Haram, and the speaker seemed to make reference to those.
“You are proud of your killing us and arresting us,” he says. “Allah has told us in the Koran not to be discouraged, not to be frightened and not to be downcast because we are victorious.”
Boko Haram’s insurgency has killed more than 1,000 people since mid-2009. The group is believed to have a number of factions, and Shekau is suspected to lead the main Islamist branch.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer, is divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.