Nigeria's militant Islamist group Boko Haram has pledged official allegiance to ISIS, according to an audio statement released online Saturday [Mar. 7]. In the audio, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau appears to be addressing ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and also calls on Muslims throughout the world to declare a similar loyalty.
The message was confirmed by Flashpoint Intelligence, a global security firm and NBC News consultant. According to Flashpoint, the audio confirms what many analysts have said would happen: a bridging between Boko Haram and ISIS. Boko Haram is also following ISIS's trend of releasing messages online and mimicking the terror network's propaganda.
Jihadist monitoring group SITE said the declaration was made in an unverified audio message, posted on Boko Haram's Twitter account.
"We announce our allegiance to the Caliph ... and will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity," SITE quoted Boko Haram as saying.
Boko Haram began a military campaign to impose Islamic rule in northern Nigeria in 2009. It would be the latest in a series of groups to swear allegiance to IS.
AUDIO: BOKO HARAM OFFICIAL ALLEGIANCE TO ISIS - TAKE A LISTEN BELOW:
#BokoHaram has officially declared itself part of the Caliphate in an audio release by leader Shekau pledging allegiance to Al-Baghdadi.
— Flashpoint Partners (@FlashpointIntel) March 7, 2015
#BREAKING Boko Haram leader pledges allegiance to Islamic State group: audio message
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) March 7, 2015