The new leader of Boko Haram, just appointed by the Islamic State, has vowed to end his attacks on fellow Muslims regarded by the group as infidels, and instead focus on Christians. Abu Musab al-Barnawi, who replaces Abubakar Shekau, has accused the West of trying to “Christianize the region” and says he will “blow up every Church” and “kill every Christian.”
Meanwhile, Shekau, who in March 2015 pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has released a recorded message crying foul over the new appointment, but vowed to “continue in the cause of Allah” to destroy the infidel….
“We are still in the cause of Allah and will never depart in the struggle to establish an Islamic caliphate and standing by Islam. We will continue to work for the cause of Allah no going back. Anyone that caused this, no problem, if it’s possible may Allah show him the correct path and if it is not so may Allah protect us from his mischief…no matter what we have our basis in Quran. No matter what they call us, what we aspire is to justify our ideology in the Quran which is ultimate because we have not derailed. We are on and in the future, we will not accept any emissary except the one we can attest he is sincere and truthful for Allah and His cause.”
Abu Musab al-Barnawi’s new focus on murdering Christians and destroying churches represents a major shift in strategy, as Boko Haram has killed far more Muslims than Christians since the election of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, whom Boko Haram regarded as an infidel; ithas been going after every Muslim who voted for him. Buhari made it his priority to destroy the jihadist group and encouraged neighboring countries to join in his counter-terrorism efforts.
Immediately after the inauguration of Buhari in May 2015, a Boko Haram suicide bomber denoted inside a mosque near a central marketplace, leveling the site and killing 26 worshippers. The weeks following saw heavily populated Muslim areas attacked, and toward the end of Ramadan on July 3 came the most brutal attack. 150 Muslim worshippers were killed in mosques, and Boko Haram extended its brutal rampage by murdering Muslim men, women and children in their homes and burning down houses.
Under new leader al-Barnawi, Boko Haram is now bringing in new recruits in a redirected anti-Christian war that he describes as one being “fought by Muslims against ‘apostates’ and ‘crusaders.’”