Boko Haram’s New Propaganda Video Style

Boko Haram’s latest video aimed at showing an unidentified community happy to be under their control is a departure for a group whose trademark has been brutal hit-and-run attacks against defenceless civilians.

Residents in the affected areas have told AFP that people are desperately seeking the chance to flee, sometimes under the cover of darkness, after watching their neighbours suffer brutal corporal punishments administered by the new rebel leadership.

There are, however, indications that Boko Haram is trying to persuade people that they will be safe under its so-called caliphate, provided everyone adheres to the group’s medieval interpretation of Islamic law.

Boko Haram “appears to be moving in the direction of providing services, especially security for the residents in the territories it controls,” John Campbell, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote on the think-tank’s blog.

“They have stepped in as an alternative government following the withdrawal of government institutions from the areas now under their control,” added security analyst Abdullahi Bawa Wase. Parts of the latest video obtained last weekend were almost certainly orchestrated for propaganda purposes.

Locals were shown cheering gunmen riding down a road on a tank, in some cases with onlooking children celebrating, arms raised in the air. Several people were interviewed, including an unidentified older man, who said: “As a Muslim man, I am literally happy with Islamic caliphate. We have not faced any humiliation.” There was no way to tell whether the words were spoken under duress.

The video clearly had a different objective from previous messages, with Boko Haram trying to present itself as a benevolent ruling authority and its leader Abubakar Shekau as a spiritual leader, said Ryan Cummings, of security analysts Red24.

“Much of Shekau’s previous videos have been filled with anti-Nigerian, anti-Western vitriol, which was seemingly delivered by a madman,” he said.

The latest message, however, portrayed him as “a composed theologian, providing spiritual guidance to a captured congregation”, he added, referring to scenes apparently showing a large crowd listening to Shekau’s preachings through a speaker.

“Staged or not, it may go a long way in nullifying government claims that Boko Haram is merely a bunch of criminal bandits with no agenda other than senseless violence,” he added.

Credit: Yahoo News

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