Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian Islamist militant organization Boko Haram, has refuted media reports that he had been killed or deposed as the leader of the terrorist group. Shekau can be heard in an eight-minute audio tape condemning rivals for spreading false rumors of his death, according to Agence Presse-France.
“It is indeed all over the global media of infidels that I am dead or that I am sick and incapacitated and have lost influence in the affairs of religion,” he said in the Hausa language recording. “It should be understood that this is false. This is indeed a lie. If it were true, my voice wouldn't have been heard, now that I am speaking.”
The SITE Intelligence Group, which has verified a number of terrorist recordings, images and video, attested to the recording's authenticity, AFP reported.
Skehau's message came in response to a claim from Idriss Deby, president of Chad, that Shekau had been incapacitated and Boko Haram “decapitated.” Deby went on to predict that the government of Chad would rid the country and surrounding area of Boko Haram's influence soon.
“The war will be short, with the setting up of the regional force, it will be over by the end of the year,” Deby said, explaining that Chad is just one of five countries determined to curtail the group's influence.
Shekau took over Boko Haram after founder Muhammad Yusuf died in Nigerian police custody in 2009. Shekau has repeatedly mocked authorities in Nigeria and other countries, with the ferocity of the attacks increasing since more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped in April 2014.
“Gratitude be to Allah and with his help, I have not disappeared. I am still alive and I am not dead,” Shekau said in the recording that circulated Sunday. “And I will not die until my time appointed by Allah is up.”