Posted by News Express | 18 February 2015 | 2,990 times
The latest video posted by West African Islamist extremists Boko Haram marks a change in tactics for the militant group.
The footage, featuring a man believed to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, depicts the reclusive leader delivering a 12-minute “message” to leaders in the Nigerian government and western democracies, condemning their rule of law and urging their leaders to turn to Allah.
But perhaps most interesting is the way in which the video was shared, the iconography used throughout, its higher resolution and the cues the group seems to be taking from its colleagues in the Islamic State (ISIS), militants thousands of miles away.
In the video, Shekau condemns the Nigerian government and denounces the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Benin for their recent pledges of support to aid Nigeria in its battle against Boko Haram.
A graphic depicting the black flag typically used by ISIS and its supporters appears in the top right corner throughout the video. While Boko Haram has long used the so-called Black Standard over a book and two crossed guns as their symbol, this new icon is more commonly associated with ISIS.
That now-notorious ISIS flag features the Shahada, the Islamic testament of faith, and an additional circle, that translates in its entirety as “there is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.”
In addition to borrowing the group’s iconography, Boko Haram appears to be taking a page from the Islamic State’s social media strategy.
Previously, Boko Haram distributed its footage directly to international news agencies such as the AFP, oftentimes through a middleman.
Its latest video and photos were originally posted to a Twitter account that appears to be closely tied to the group — much like how ISIS distributes its gruesome execution videos.
The footage is also translated from Hausa, one of Nigeria’s languages, into both Arabic and English, presumably to allow for wider distribution and consumption of the content.
That same Twitter account also shared a group of photos, and while no known Boko Haram members can be identified in the group, it bears the title: “Images from throughout the Islamic State in West Africa.”
The photo set, much like those from the Islamic State, features idyllic scenes of the countryside and people, living their lives seemingly without fear. The files were shared using the anonymous posting platform JustPaste.it, another platform frequently used by members of ISIS and their supporters.
The borrowing of strategies employed by the world's most-feared terror group comes as no surprise.
Boko Haram was founded in 2002 and has long rejected Western secular society and attempted to impose Shariah law — an Islamic legal system based on the Koran and fatwas — and increase its territory under a self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate.
ISIS, since its inception, has had similar goals.
In July 2014, Shekau voiced his support for ISIS in a 16-minute video, addressing ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and saying: “My brethren... may Allah protect you.”
Nigerian authorities chose to postpone February's presidential and legislative elections until March 28 because of insecurity in the country caused by Boko Haram.
Security forces are fighting against the group, which has taken over large swaths of the country’s northeast. Violent attacks have left thousands dead and displaced 1.5 million people in the region.
If the latest video is to be believed, the group's land grabbing appears to be far from over.
•Credit (except for amended headline): Yahoo! News. Photo shows screenshot of Shekau in Boko Haram’s latest video.
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