Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has accepted a pledge of allegiance by the Nigerian armed group Boko Haram, according to an ISIL spokesman.
On Thursday, ISIL's media arm Al-Furqan, in an audio recording by spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, said Boko Haram's pledge of allegiance has been accepted, claiming the "caliphate" has now expanded to West Africa and that "no one can stand in its path."
The development Thursday came as both groups — among the most ruthless in the world — are under increasing military pressure and have sustained setbacks on the battlefield.
ISIL seized much of northern and western Iraq last summer, gaining control of about a third of both Iraq and Syria. But it is now struggling against Iraqi forces seeking to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, while coming under fire from U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in other parts of the country and in Syria.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram has been weakened by a multinational force that has dislodged it from a score of northeastern Nigerian towns. But its new Twitter account, increasingly slick and more frequent video messages and a new media arm have been considered signs that the group is now being helped by ISIL propagandists.
Then on Saturday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau posted an audio recording online that pledged allegiance to ISIL.
Al-Adnani had urged foreign fighters from around the world to migrate and join Boko Haram. He also sent a message to Christians and other non-Muslims in ISIL lands to convert to Islam or pay a special tax — something the extremists have already put into practice in ISIL-held territory.