Boko Haram, the militant Islamic group that has been kidnapping women, girls, and boys and capturing territory in northern Nigeria, has declared an Islamic caliphate. The Nigerian army already rejected the claim as "empty," noting that the "sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nigerian state is still intact."

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau made the claim in a video that was created in July. (You can watch part of the tape above). It's not clear if Shekau is aligning Boko Haram with ISIS militants, who declared an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria earlier this summer, though Shekau does praise ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the video.

Shekau also congratulates Boko Haram militants in the video for capturing Gwoza, which, with 265,000 residents, is the largest town currently under militant control. "Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic state," he says.


While the Nigerian military has rejected Boko Haram's claim of establishing a caliphate, it has not been able to stop Boko Haram. Nigerian Defense spokesman Chris Olukolade told Al Jazeera, "Operations to secure [the] area from the activities of the bandits [are] still ongoing."