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Osama Bin Laden’s Files: Boko Haram’s leader wanted to be ‘under one banner’


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osama-bin-ladens-files-boko-haram-leader-wanted-to-be-under-one-banner.phpLong War Journal:

Thomas Joscelyn

March 4, 2016


Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, requested to speak with Osama bin Laden’s deputy, according to a newly released letter recovered during the May 2011 raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan.


After citing Islamic texts concerning the benefits of unity and the pitfalls of factionalism, Shekau said he and his men had “listened to…the tapes of al Qaeda and its sheikhs,” including bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, Abu Yahya al Libi and Abu Qatadah al Filistini. Zarqawi, who founded al Qaeda in Iraq and was killed in June 2006, was already dead when Shekau wrote his letter, as he asked Allah to “have mercy on [Zarqawi’s] soul.” Abu Yahya al Libi served as al Qaeda’s general manager until his demise in a US drone strike in June 2012.


“But now what we have left is to learn about the system of the organization and how it is organized,” Shekau continued. “The traveler will fail if he does not become familiar with the road that he is taking, and when he fails he may return or choose other options. But, when the traveler knows his way, he never fails, because he knew what he was facing.”


Shekau asked Allah to “bear witness” that “we want to be under one banner and there must be a vision to begin with, because our religion is a religion of vision and knowledge.”


“With your permission,” he concluded his letter, “I ask to speak with Osama bin Laden’s deputy, may Allah protect him, because the group is loyal, which Allah will ask me about on the Day of Judgment.”


Shekau was likely referring to how al Qaeda “is organized” and the requirements to become part of the organization. Ayman al Zawahiri was bin Laden’s deputy when Shekau’s request was written.



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