Boko Haram Becomes the Latest Terror Group to Declare an Islamic Caliphate

The group has captured a town of more 300,000 residents and said they will place it under Islamic law.

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Another month, another Islamic caliphate. All eyes may be on ISIL in Iraq, which has recently undergone a rebranding as the Islamic State, but Nigeria's Boko Haram is reportedly getting into the caliphate game as well.

In a 52-minute video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau crowed over the group's recent capture of Gwoza, a town with nearly 300,000 residents.

Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic state." 

The town, Shekau said, would now be ruled "by Islamic law." (For more on caliphates, check out our handy explainer here.)

The BBC added that flags were raised over the town's palace and noted that the video "also shows about 20 men in civilian clothes apparently being shot dead."

Boko Haram has continued its reign of terror in Nigeria and elsewhere in recent years, but has killed thousands of civilians in attacks in recent months and, most famously, kidnapped a number of Nigerian schoolgirls. Last week, the group reportedly executed two people for smoking cigarettes.

In a statement on Monday, the Nigerian army dismissed Boko Haram's claims of having setting up a caliphate, saying that "sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nigerian state is still intact." In the meantime, thousands of Nigerian refugees have fled in neighboring Cameroon.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.