Boko Haram leader denies ceasefire deal, says 200 abducted girls married off
(CNN) — Boko Haram laughed off Nigeria’s announcement of a ceasefire agreement, saying there is no such deal and schoolgirls abducted in April have been converted to Islam and married off.
Nigerian officials announced two weeks ago that they had struck a deal with the Islamist terror group.
The deal, the government said, included the release of more than 200 girls whose kidnapping at a boarding school in the nation’s north stunned the world.
In a video released Saturday, the Islamist group’s notorious leader fired off a series of denials.
“Don’t you know the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls have converted to Islam?” Abubakar Shekau said. “They have now memorized two chapters of the Quran.”
Shekau slammed reports of their planned release.
“We married them off. They are in their marital homes,” he said, chuckling.
The group’s leader also denied knowing the negotiator with whom the government claimed it worked out a deal, saying he does not represent Boko Haram.
“We will not spare him and will slaughter him if we get him,” he said of the negotiator.
It wasn’t clear when the video was made.
Mike Omeri, a government spokesman, said these assertions contradict those made in the group’s talks with the Nigerian government.
Omeri said the government will do everything possible to verify the claims made in the video.
“We’ve heard about the video, and we can say the road to peace is bumpy — and you cannot expect otherwise,” Omeri said. “Nigeria has been fighting a war, and wars don’t end overnight.”
Nigeria said officials met with Boko Haram in Chad twice during talks mediated by Chadian President Idriss Deby.
The ceasefire deal announced on October 17 followed a month of negotiations with representatives of the group, said Hassan Tukur, an aide to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
After the deal was announced, the aide said final negotiations on the girls’ release would be completed at a meeting a week later in Chad.
That day passed without any signs of the girls.
In the video, Shekau talked not of peace but of more violence — promising more “war, striking and killing with gun.”
This strategy appears to be playing out in parts of Nigeria, where Boko Haram fighters have continued deadly attacks on villages despite government claims of a ceasefire. More people have been abducted and scores killed in recent weeks, including one attack a day after the ceasefire that left eight dead.
Days later, the Islamist terror group abducted at least 60 young women and girls from Christian villages in northeast Nigeria.
Heavily armed fighters left 1,500 naira, or about $9, and kola nuts as a bride price for each of the women abducted, residents said.
For its part, Nigeria isn’t backing down.
It is stepping up its military campaign against militants and criminals in some parts of the West African nation, Nigeria’s defense ministry said Saturday.
The military said its airstrikes and ground operations have repelled attacks against civilians in Adamawa and Borno, two states in the northeast that have been strongholds and frequent targets for Boko Haram.
Officials are “studying” the latest video, even as the military continues to recognize the talks aimed at assuring the release of the kidnapped schoolgirls, the ministry said.
Boko Haram, whose name translates to “Western education is sin” in the Hausa language, is trying to impose strict Sharia law across Nigeria, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south. Like ISIS, it has ambitions for a caliphate, or religious state.
The group’s attacks have intensified in recent years in an apparent show of defiance for the nation’s military onslaught. Its ambitions appear to have expanded to the destruction of the government.
As part of its insurgency, it has bombed schools, churches and mosques, kidnapped women and children, and assassinated politicians and religious leaders alike.
In the local Hausa dialect, Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden.”
The group also refers to itself as Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, meaning “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.”
Boko Haram militants mainly inhabit areas in the northern states of Nigeria, specifically Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, Borno and Kaduna.
Originally, Boko Haram was referred to locally as the Nigerian Taliban because of their religious similarities to the Taliban.
Boko Haram does not engage in Nigeria’s political system out of an adherence to a fundamentalist form of Islam, which forbids participation unless the system is based on Sharia, or Islamic law.
Boko Haram militants targeted and robbed banks in 2011.
Boko Haram-related violence has killed more than 4,000 people.
2002 – The group, which may have existed since the late 1990s, organizes under the Muslim cleric Mohammed Yusuf. It is centered in Maiduguri, the capital of the northeastern state of Borno.
December 2003 – The first known attack by Boko Haram includes roughly 200 militants, who attack multiple police stations in the state of Yobe, near the Niger border.
July 2009 – The Boko Haram uprising begins in Bauchi and spreads to the states of Borno, Kano and Yobe. The militant group kills scores of police officers. A joint military task force responds, leaving more than 700 Boko Haram members dead and its operational mosque destroyed. The uprising ends when police capture the group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf. His deputy, Abubakar Shekau, reportedly dies in the uprising. Yusuf later dies in police custody; police say he is shot during an attempted escape, but Boko Haram claims it is an extrajudicial execution.
August 2009 – Senior Boko Haram militant, Sanni Umaru, releases a statement claiming to be the new leader.
July 2010 – Boko Haram releases a video statement in which Yusuf’s deputy who allegedly died the previous year, Abubakar Shekau, claims to be the leader of the group.
September 7, 2010 – In the state of Bauchi, 50 Boko Haram militants attack a prison, killing five people and releasing more than 700 inmates.
May 29, 2011 – The day of President Goodluck Jonathan’s inauguration, Boko Haram detonates three IEDs near a military barracks in the city of Bauchi in Bauchi State. At least 10 people die in the attack.
July 7, 2011 – Boko Haram warns Muslims to avoid Christians, public servants and public buildings, and anything related to politics, “This is a government that is not Islamic. Therefore, all its employees – Muslims or non-Muslims – are infidels.”
August 25, 2011 – Twelve people die after Boko Haram militants attack a police station and two banks in the city of Gombi in Adamawa.
August 26, 2011 – Boko Haram attacks the United Nations compound in Abuja. A car bomb kills 23 people and injures more than 75 others.
November 4, 2011 – More than 100 die in multiple attacks in Yobo, Damaturu and Borno states. Boko Haram militants utilize IEDs and vehicle-borne IEDs to target security forces and their offices, markets and 11 churches.
January 2012 – A newly formed splinter group, known as Ansaru, announces Abu Usmatul Al-Ansari as its leader.
January 20, 2012 – More than 200 people are killed when Boko Haram launches coordinated attacks targeting police, military, a prison and other targets in the city of Kano in Kano State.
August 23, 2012 – Unverified media reports claim that Boko Haram has begun peace talks with the Nigerian government. Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qa Qa warns the media against making any more claims, “We are telling the government to understand that if it is not ready to embrace Sharia and the Quran as the guiding book from which the laws of the land derive, there shall be no peace… [and media agencies] should understand that for us there is no difference between those fighting with guns and with the pen.”
February 19, 2013 – Militants alleging to be Boko Haram kidnap a French family of seven in a national park in northern Cameroon; however, the affiliation with Boko Haram can not be verified. The family is later released.
April 2013 – President Goodluck Jonathan states he has appointed a team to explore the possibility of amnesty for Islamist militants. Shekau responds in an audio statement: “Surprisingly the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon.”
April 19, 2013 – Boko Haram battles with multinational security forces from Niger, Nigeria and Chad in the city of Baga in Borno State, leaving nearly 200 people dead, including many civilians. Shekau releases a video in May saying Boko Haram is not responsible for the civilian deaths.
May 15, 2013 – Nigeria’s Ministry of Defence announces a military offensive has begun in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe to “rid the nation’s border territories of terrorist bases and activities.”
June 4, 2013 – President Jonathan approves the proscription of Boko Haram and splinter group Ansaru as terrorist organizations.
June 2013 – Boko Haram targets churches in various states on three Sundays in a row, leaving more than 50 people dead.
August 14, 2013 – The Ministry of Defence announces the death of Boko Haram’s second-in-command, Momodu Baba (known as Abu Saad).
August 19, 2013 – Nigeria’s chief army spokesperson claims Shekau may have died after an attack on June 30, but the claim is never verified.
September 17, 2013 – Boko Haram gunmen dress in military uniforms and stage a fake checkpoint near Benisheik in Borno, executing travelers and burning vehicles, leaving at least 143 people dead.
September 25, 2013 – A man claiming to be Shekau appears in a video and says that he is, in fact, alive and well. However, his identity is not verified.
January 26, 2014 – At least 45 are killed in a market in Kawuri in Borno after Boko Haram militants open fire.
February 11, 2014 – At least 23 people are killed when suspected Boko Haram militants torch houses in the village of Konduga, according to the governor of Borno state.
April 14, 2014 – Boko Haram militants kidnap approximately 276 teenage girls from a boarding school in Chibok in Borno. Officials there say some of the girls were able to escape.
May 5, 2014 – In a video statement, a man claiming to be Shekau says, “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah…there is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.”
May 13, 2014 – Hundreds of Boko Haram militants storm three villages in the state of Borno. Villagers resist, killing more than 200 Boko Haram fighters.
May 20, 2014 – Twin blasts in the city of Jos kill 118 people at a market. Nigerian authorities decline to say who is responsible.
May 21, 2014 – The White House announces that the United States has sent 80 troops to Chad to help search for the kidnapped schoolgirls.
June 3-4, 2014 – Hundreds of people are killed in raids by Boko Haram Islamic militants in the state of Borno, with some sources putting the death toll at 400 to 500.
June 7-8, 2014 – Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnap at least 20 young women over a weekend in the northeastern Nigeria village of Garkin Fulani, 8 kilometers from a town where more than 200 schoolgirls were taken nearly two months earlier.
June 18-22, 2014 – Boko Haram militants hold the village of Kummabza in Borno state, northeastern Nigeria, hostage for four days. They abduct more than 60 females, including children, and kill 30 men in the raid.
July 7, 2014 – Sources say sixty-three women and girls kidnapped by Boko Haram last month from the Kummabza village in northern Borno state, have escaped from their captors and returned to their village. Boko Haram is still believed to be holding about 200 schoolgirls abducted April 14 from a boarding school in the town of Chibok.
July 17-20, 2014 – Boko Haram raids the Nigerian town of Damboa. By the time the raid ends, 66 residents have been killed and more than 15,000 have fled.
October 16, 2014 – The Nigerian government announces they’ve reached a ceasefire agreement with the Islamist terror group that includes the release of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls.
November 1, 2014 – In a video, the group’s leader denies the Nigerian government’s claim of a ceasefire.