This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at

Non-News - Boko Haram Links Up With ISIS?

March 10, 2015

March 9, 2015 – San Francisco, CA – – Major news sources are reporting that the Nigerian terror group, Boko Haram [Western education is forbidden] has hooked up with ISIS, "…According to an audio message purported to be from Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau…Boko Haram [announced] its "allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims, Ibrahim ibn Awad ibn Ibrahim al-Husseini al-Qurashi," which is another name for ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. [source, Nima Elbagir, Paul Cruickshank and Mohammed Tawfeeq, Boko Haram purportedly pledges allegiance to ISIS, CNN]

What we consider the most troubling aspect of this story is not that one Islamic terror group would join forces with another, but rather that the legacy media is suggesting that this marks an important turning point in the global jihad and that somehow such a pairing makes both of the groups much more powerful.

The above referenced news outlet, CNN breathlessly consulted with Jacob Zenn from the Jamestown Foundation where he serves as an analyst. Mr. Zenn believes this is a major development, attempted to draw a distinction between the two groups, suggesting that there was a fundamental impediment which had to be overcome in order for ISIS and Boko Haram to conjoin.

We see the value in this terror marriage as being mostly in the realm of PR and of little strategic importance.

Zenn draws the distinction between Al-Qaeda [in the form of Boko Haram spinoff Ansaru] and the "takfiri like Shekau.

Though it's quite possible that Zenn's analysis was misconveyed by CNN's writers, drawing such a distinction is academic at best. Having touched on the matter in several previous pieces [see, "Imams" At Iran's Press TV Issue Fatwah, Label ISIS/ISIL As Takfir: Not Islamic and the below referenced piece] we feel it unnecessary to revisit the issue in much detail, but drawing from the short version goes as follows:

"Takfir is a matter of Islamic jurisprudence in which a ruling is made that an individual or group thereof are not or are no longer Muslim. Traditionally this was done by a Muslim group which was at war with another to avoid the Qur'anic prohibition of Muslims killing their coreligionist brothers and sisters…" [see, Azeem Ibrahim, Boko Haram And Hashtag Diplomacy]

Use of the term in this context suggests that somehow Boko Haram's ideology is wildly out of touch with that of mainstream Islamic terrorism.

It isn't…and listening to just about any of Shekau's videos should convince anyone that the group's savage campaign of violence is firmly rooted in Islamic scripture and therefore sacralized. For example, the terrorist leader states that he is acting within the confines of the Shari'a, "What I am doing is written in the Holy Qur'an and the Hadith and I will not stop. I challenge all the clerics of the world to question my deeds. Those underrating my capacity should have a re-think. I will never allow democracy to thrive. The concept of government of the people by the people for the people will never be possible and will never exist. Democracy shall be replaced only by the government of Allah, from Allah and for Allah."

This "takfir" methodology is overwhelmingly used by Islamist spokesmen to try to "de-Islamize" Islamic terrorism, which is an absurdity. It's a not too clever dodge because it's an irrelevant smoke screen. We proceed on the principle that if a group claims to be operating under the dictates of the Qur'an then who is anyone to question the authenticity of its claim?

No, though this new terror tag-team might benefit from some increased coordination, Boko Haram has proven itself quite capable of killing, maiming and torturing in the name of Allah. What separates most of these groups isn't a disagreement over ideology, it's the clash of personalities between the groups' leaders or a mismatch because of internal structural differences.

Demonstrating that these decisions are often made on the basis of ego, we point to a piece we published in June of 2014:

"...As noted in the Rand Corporation's recently published monologue [Seth G. Jones, A Persistent Threat: The Evolution of al Qa'ida and Other Salafi Jihadists ] what led to the expulsion of ISIS from al-Qaeda was a matter of internal politics, an organizational/jurisdictional dispute between ISIS, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi [also 'Abu Du'a] and Jabhat al-Nusrah, whose emir is Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani. After a long period of patient mediation by Zawahiri, al-Baghdadi ultimately refused to accept al-Jawlani's movement as being separate, but equal to his in the sense that both would report directly to al-Qaeda. With al-Nusrah rapidly gaining fighters [the group was founded in Syria just two years ago] and al-Baghdadi being obstinate, Zawahiri made the decision to expel ISIS as an official al-Qaeda franchisee..." [see, William Mayer, The Exponential Growth of Revolutionary Islam Under President Obama,]

Therefore we feel that it's incorrect try to draw a contrast between al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al-Shebaab, ISIS, HAMAS, etc., using the relative nature of their use of violence or supposed doctrinal differences as the metric; all are motivated by the same Islamic ideology, about which they are, unsuprisingly, in agreement.

©2015 LLC. All rights reserved.

This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at