By Adedayo Ogunleye, Abuja
Emerging reports show that the insurgent Islamic group, Boko Haram, is emulating the strategies being used by another Islamic fundamentalist group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, with the recent upgrade of its media strategy for communicating with the public and the adoption of Twitter as a communication medium.
In its latest released video clip, a man who identified himself as the group’s new spokesman, Abu Musab Abul-Barnawi, was featured in a TV studio wearing a hood over his face and being interviewed by a man whose face was equally concealed by a hood, a practice common in ISIS videos.
The production of the video clip is of a higher quality than anything the Boko Haram group had published before.
Cable News Network, CNN, also reported that an organization which calls itself Boko Haram’s official mouthpiece this week tweeted a picture of an alleged military training camp for children on its Twitter account, posting images of children in formation holding AK-47 weapons.
Although the authenticity of the photos is still being debated, sources within the American security intelligence community have admitted that the images appear to be real and that they are consistent with the group’s new strategy of using children for terrorist activities.
The release of these photos and the recent adoption of Twitter as a communication channel, along with the practice of kidnapping and forced recruitment of underage persons as child soldiers are being identified as pointers to the group’s emulation of ISIS’ practices.
Other pointers are the group’s increased penchant for executing enemies by beheading and the inclusion of Islamic chanting in their videos – a standard practice in ISIS videos.
In a July 2014 video, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, paid tribute to Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who in late June declared himself “the caliph” and “leader of Muslims everywhere”.
A month after that, Shekau declared that he would rule the land annexed by Boko Haram as a caliphate.
Analysts have observed that the extremist group has been emboldened by the success of ISIS and that efforts at emulation are spurred by possibilities of funding and logistic support from the foreign terrorist group which is believed to be largely financially independent.
Boko Haram has also increasingly employed conventional warfare tactics such as the dropping of flyers at night warning of imminent attacks to intimidate local populations, which has reportedly resulted in a number of soldiers deserting the armed forces in Maiduguri.