Why Boko Haram is pledging allegiance to IS

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SHEKAU
The man purported to be the head of Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau

The leader of the Nigeria-based group Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Abubakar Shekahu who is believed to be the head of the militant group, reportedly pledged formal allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) in an audio recording released on Twitter Saturday.

The message comes as Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon launch a multinational offensive against the Boko Haram militants.

Boko Haram, which has been linked to multiple attacks in Nigeria and Chad, has been trying to align itself with ISIS for some time.

The group wants to establish an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria and believed to be in control of over about  20,000 square kilometres in the country’s northeast.

The armed group has focused its violence mainly inside Nigeria but has recently launched attacks in neighboring Cameroon and Chad. It attacks indiscriminately bombing both Muslims and Christians even though its says it wants to establish what it says in an Islamic state in the North.

So, what does the groups allegiance to ISIL mean for Nigeria?

Some international political analysts are saying the group is trying to show itself as an importnat international organizations.

Others like Rita Katz, the director of SITE, the terrorism tracking group, says the pledge signifies Boko Haram’s transition from a local extremist group to “an important arm” of ISIS.

Boko Haram was founded in 2002. The group aims to impose Sharia law, a legal system based on the Koran and fatwas and rejects Western education.

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