On Wednesday, Chadian President Idriss Deby announced that Islamic militant group Boko Haram not only has a new leader, but that they are also willing to negotiate the release of the missing girls of Government Secondary School, according to the BBC.
Nefarious Boko Haram leader Abubaker Shekau (pictured) hasn’t been heard from since his last audio recording in March, when he publicly pledged Boko Haram’s allegiance to the Islamic State (IS).
It is now thought that he is dead.
In Boko Haram’s latest video, which was released at the beginning of August, an unidentified man spoke for the terrorist organization seeming to assure followers, “We are still present everywhere we had been before.”
The BBC adds about the speaker, “He spoke in the regional Hausa language, with an accent from the Kanuri ethnic group, to which Mr. Shekau belongs.”
Before Shekau, Boko Haram was led by its founder, Muhammad Yusuf, who reportedly died in police custody in 2009.
Under Shekau’s command, Boko Haram became its most destructive to date, killing and kidnapping thousands.
Boko Haram shot to international infamy, after it kidnapped the aforementioned 200 girls last April.
Last October, it was erroneously announced by then-Nigeria Chief of Staff Alex Badeh that the girls would be released.
Shortly afterward, though, Boko Haram would reject the claims and more women and children would be kidnapped.
According to President Deby, Mahamat Daoud is the new replacement for Shekau, and he is reportedly willing to negotiate the girls’ release.
As for Shekau, this isn’t the first time authorities have speculated that he is dead.
In fact, there has been much confusion over Shekau’s real identity. Last September, for example, Nigerian military general Chris Olukolade declared that Mohammed Bashir, the man who purportedly posed as Shekau in videos, was killed.
But that declaration was soon turned on its head when Shekau appeared alive just a few weeks later.