"We will consider negotiation only when we have brought the government to their knees," the spokesman, Abu Qaqa, said in the group's first major interview with a western newspaper. "Once we see that things are being done according to the dictates of Allah, and our members are released [from prison], we will only put aside our arms – but we will not lay them down. You don't put down your arms in Islam, you only put them aside."
Qaqa, whose name is a pseudonym, said the group's members were spiritual followers of al-Qaida, and claimed they had met senior figures in the network founded by Osama bin Laden during visits to Saudia Arabia.
"If [security forces] are going to places of worship and destroying them, like mosques and Quranic schools, you have primary schools as well, you have secondary schools and universities, and we will start bombing them."
KANO (AFP) – Abubakar Muhammad Shekau was once thought to have been killed, but has re-emerged to lead Islamist group Boko Haram from the shadows as it carries out a bloody onslaught in northern Nigeria.
Very little is known about Shekau, but this week he appeared on YouTube, threatening more attacks and saying Boko Haram was responsible for the January 20 violence which killed 185 people in Kano in reprisal for the arrest and torture of its members.
Aged 43, he was born in a farming village also called Shekau in northeastern Yobe state.
He moved to the nearby city of Maiduguri, Boko Haram’s base, about a decade ago, according to sources familiar with the group.
Shekau studied theology under local clerics in the Mafoni area of Maiduguri and enrolled in a government-run school for Islamic studies.
He is often shown in photos wearing a keffiyeh and seated next to an AK-47, his face intense.
A video released on YouTube earlier this month portrayed a markedly different man compared to earlier images — he appeared considerably heavier, for example — but a Western diplomat said “we assessed it was Shekau.”
He was seen as the second-in-command of Boko Haram at the time of a 2009 uprising put down by a brutal military assault which left some 800 people dead.