The terrorist group Boko Haram has declared the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza in northeastern Nigeria an Islamic “caliphate,” following the slaughter of more than 100 residents there.
As reported by the Nigerian Tribune on August 25, one of the terror group's leaders, Abubakar Shekau (shown), said in a rambling, nearly hour-long video that the town, in Nigeria's Borno state, is now under Islamic rule. “Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate,” declared Shekau in the video obtained by AFP News on August 24. The video reportedly includes footage of the executions of civilians in the town.
“By the grace of Allah, we will not leave the town,” insisted Shekau. “We have come to stay.”
In a separate video in July Shekau voiced support for the leader of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who in June declared himself “the caliph” — the term for an Islamic religious head — and “leader of Muslims everywhere.”
As if to demonstrate their approval of the murderous tactics of the IS thugs — which has included mass executions of Christians and religious minorities in Iraq, along with the beheading of children — Boko Haram terrorists beheaded a six-year-old boy during a June 1 rampage in Attagara, a town in the Gwoza district. Witnesses said that the Sunday morning attack, which occurred while many of the Christian residents were at church, was carried out by as many as 100 armed Boko Haram criminals, who slaughtered men, women, and children.
As reported by Voice of the Martyrs, the six-year-old boy was severely wounded from a machete attack, but had been rescued by a 55-year-old villager, when a group of five terrorists grabbed the boy from the villager's arms and beheaded him before severely beating the villager.
In April the group also kidnapped over 300 school girls from schools in Borno state, many of them from Christian families. Over 275 of the girls are still missing.
The Islamist terror group has targeted Nigeria's Christian population for over five years, and in the past several months has stepped up its aggression in an attempt to overwhelm the country's military and push its influence further south into the rest of the country.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch in July, terrorists associated with Boko Haram have been responsible for the deaths of 2,053 civilians in over 95 attacks during the first half of 2014 alone.
As for the the group's declaration of an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza and beyond, Nigeria's military called the claims empty, with Defense spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade insisting that the nation's military continued to control the area claimed by the terrorists group.
“The claim is empty,” Olukolade said of Shekau's video-taped claims. “The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nigerian state is still intact. Any group of terrorists laying claim to any portion of the country will not be allowed to get away with that expression of delusion and crime.” He added that “appropriate military operations to secure that area from the activities of the bandits are ongoing.”
Despite such assurance, some Middle East experts have said that Boko Haram is within range of achieving its stated goal of an Islamic state across northern Nigeria. AFP reported that in addition to the town of Gwoza, the terrorist group also holds large sections throughout Borno state, along with at least one village in neighboring Yobe state.
In June the terrorist group Islamic State, formerly calling itself Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, declared a caliphate in June after capturing large parts of northern Iraq and eastern Syria, murdering or displacing thousands of Christians and other religious minorities in the area.