Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the new leader of Boko Haram, has reportedly threatened to bomb churches and kill Christians while promising to end attacks on mosques and markets used by Muslims.
The Japan Times reports that an interview published on Wednesday, August 3, 2016, by the Islamic State group, had al-Barnawi declaring a major shift in strategy for the Nigerian extremists that have killed many Muslims in attacks on mosques with suicide bombers and gunmen.
He was quoted to have said there is a Western plot to Christianize the region and accused charities of using their aid for that.
As translated on SITE Intelligence Group in the Islamic State newspaper, al-Nabaa, the newspaper identified al-Barnawi as the new ‘Wali,’ or governor, of its West Africa Province. The ‘Wali’ title was previously used to describe long-time Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau.
SITE Intelligence quotes the new leader as saying, “Under my leadership the militants will work to seize back territory. Increasing numbers of youth are joining the cause, though Nigeria’s military reports that hundreds of its fighters have surrendered as aerial bombardments and ground assaults cut supply routes.
“There have been attacks on crowded marketplaces in predominantly Muslim areas and the killings and kidnappings of schoolchildren.
“The targeting of students accounts for its nickname Boko Haram, which means Western education is sinful or forbidden.
“They strongly seek to Christianize the society. They exploit the condition of those who are displaced under the raging war, providing them with food and shelter and then Christianizing their children.
“The militants will respond to that threat by booby-trapping and blowing up every church that we are able to reach, and killing all of those (Christians) who we find from the citizens of the cross.” He said.