The leader of Ansaru, a Nigeria-based jihadist group that was added to the US’ list of global terrorist organizations just days ago, recently called Ayman al-Zawahiri “our good emir” and Mullah Omar the “Emir of the Believers.”
Abu Usama al Ansari, the leader of Ansaru, praised al Qaeda and the Taliban’s top leaders in an Eid al Adha statement that was released on jihadist forums on Nov. 14. His statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Al Ansari described the leader of al Qaeda as “our good emir, and dear sheikh, the doctor of the Ummah [Muslims community], the man of dignity and determination.”
Additionally, al Ansari described Mullah Omar as the “Emir of the Believers” [the title is also known as “Emir al Mumineen,” or the Commander of the Faithful]. Mullah Omar’s title has religious significance among jihadists; the Commander of the Faithful is designated the leader of their Islamist caliphate. Osama bin Laden had sworn allegiance to Mullah Omar.
Al Ansari extended his greetings to the heads of al Qaeda’s official branches, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Shabaab, and the al-Mulathameen Brigade (which has since merged with the Movement for the Oneness and Jihad in West Africa to form the al-Murabitoon Brigade).
In his statement, al Ansari also “promoted jihad and fighters, asking Muslims to reject how the Western media brands them as ‘enemies of freedom who rebel against international laws,'” according to SITE. Additionally, he “indirectly criticized” Boko Haram, which was also designated by the US as a terrorist group two days ago, for an attack in North Africa that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Nigerians, including citizens.
Ansaru, along with Boko Haram, was added by the US State Department to the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations two days ago, on Nov. 13.
According to State’s designation, Ansaru, also known as Ansar al-Muslimeen in the Land of Black Africans (Bilad al-Sudan), is “a Boko Haram splinter faction” that has “focused on Nigerian military and Western targets.”
In its most high-profile attack on the Nigerian military, Ansaru ambushed a convoy of Nigerian troops in Kogi state on Jan. 20, and claimed it was to stop African countries from joining the intervention against al Qaeda-affiliated Islamist groups operating in Mali. The Nigerian troops were preparing to deploy to Mali to fight the al Qaeda-linked groups.
Ansaru has also “conducted several kidnappings of foreigners living or working in Nigeria,” according to State. In March, Ansaru executed seven foreigners who worked at a construction company. Ansaru claimed the execution was carried out in response to a joint Nigerian and British military operation to free the hostages [see LWJ report, Nigerian jihadist group executes 7 foreigners].
In the past, al Ansari has expressed affinity with al Qaeda and its goals of imposing sharia, or Islamic law, and imposing a global caliphate. When he announced the formation of the terror group in June 2012, al Ansari said that one of Ansaru’s main goals is “restoring the dignity of the Muslims as it was in the time of the Caliphate.”
“The method of achieving these aims and goals is “jihad,” al Ansari said, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.