27 January 2012
Exclusive: Spokesman for Islamist group says it will not stop deadly attacks until country is ruled according to dictates of Allah
The Islamist group Boko Haram, which has killed almost 1,000 people in
, will continue its campaign of violence until the country is ruled by sharia law, a senior member has told the Guardian. Nigeria
"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.
The interview comes a week after Boko Haram claimed responsibility for
Nigeria 's single deadliest terrorist attack, which killed 186 people in the northern city of . Kano
In an audio message posted on YouTube on Friday, the group
's current leader, Abubakar Shekau, threatened to bomb schools and kidnap family members of government officials.
"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."
Shekau rejected calls for a negotiated peace from President Goodluck Jonathan, who on Thursday called for the shadowy sect to step out of the shadows and engage in dialogue.
But Qaqa said the rights of the country
's 70 million Christians, who represent half of Nigeria 's population, "would be protected" under the group 's envisioned Islamic state. "Even the prophet Mohammed lived with non-Muslims and he gave them their dues." But he said everyone must abide by sharia law: "There are no exceptions. Even if you are a Muslim and you don 't abide by sharia, we will kill you. Even if you are my own father, we will kill you."
Speaking fluent but non-native Hausa, the lingua franca across the Sahelian belt on the cusp of the
Sahara desert, he said: "It 's the secular state that is responsible for the woes we are seeing today.