Twitter accounts of Islamic State (IS) fighters and supporters offered welcoming messages to the Nigeria-based jihadist group Jama’at Ahl al-Sunnah Lil Dawa Wal Jihad (AKA Boko Haram) after its leader, Abu Bakr Shekau, recently pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. These celebratory messages were also made in bragging fashions, projecting what the users claimed to be IS’s rapidly expanding global network.
“This is one of the most dangerous pledges we’ve seen so far,” said SITE Director Rita Katz. “While the Islamic State has largely taken smaller groups and defecting leaders of larger groups under its wing, Boko Haram is an established group, and a much-talked about one at that.”
Many tweets celebrating the pledge were made in a cordial tone, such as one by user “Abu Usamah al-Kanadi,” which stated:
User “UmmDardaa” used the pledge to praise Baghdadi, tweeting:
Most prevalent in supporting statements from pro-IS accounts, though, was a touting of the group’s expanding global network. “Abu Abdullah Britani,” an alleged British IS fighter, tweeted:
To a more detailed extent, the account of “Al Haqq Media” referred to Boko Haram as IS’s “Willayah Bornu [Bornu Province]” (which the user claimed to have personally dubbed it based off of “the name of the Bornu Caliphate”). The user tweeted the following message along with a picture of what was implied to be Boko Haram-controlled territory:
The user also followed up by claiming:
The population of the area under the control of IS in Nigeria is more than 800 000 and probably twice as much.
If the Mujahdein are able to take Maiduguri [the capital city of Borno] that would add 1,2 million people under the Sharia.
An alleged IS fighter, recruiting for the group, stated:
We are not just in Iraq or Sham anymore, we are now in Libya, Sinai, Algiers, Yemen, Saudia Arabia, Afghanistan
Soon officially in Nigeria as well, In Shaa Allah [God willing]. My plan was if I fail to go to Sham, I would go to Libya instead.
“Now, Islamic State fighters and recruiters will use Boko Haram’s pledge as another tool to promote its ‘Caliphate’ as a legitimate, global, and unstoppable force,” said Katz. “This may be a dangerously effective recruitment appeal to be used on jihadi prospects.”
To the point of expanding, some pro-IS users discussed their desire for the Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement, al-Qaeda’s (AQ) branch in Somalia, to also pledge to IS and thus expand the group’s “Caliphate” further into Africa. On March 6, user “Abu Jandal” tweeted:
To this tweet, user “Abu Hamza” replied:
Thats the only hope of Khilafa expanding to the horn of Africa. N trust me it will take short time. Biidhnillah [By the permission of God].
Abu Hamza then followed up in two tweets:
Akhii they have the AQ manhajj [methodology] of fighting the invaders still. I.a once they use Dawlah's,by Allahs grace theyl grow...
Theyl have a state. Sharia courts, institutions i.e Schools, police, ministries etc. Thru this theyl win hearts wallah [I promise].
“The Islamic State and Boko Haram are appallingly compatible groups, which may explain much of the excitement by fighters and supporters,” said Katz. “Both groups have demonstrated rapid growth in recent years and show a similar lack of restraint toward barbarity.”