The degree of coordination between Nigerian terror gang Boko Haram and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been a topic of much speculation among counterterrorism analysts. It has long been a matter of record that Boko Haram idolized ISIS and sought to emulate their ideology and tactics, creating a “caliphate” of their own in Africa.
The most persistent argument against deeper ties between the two groups has been the assertion that ISIS is, in addition to its many other sins, deeply racist and would not deign to cooperate with their African fellow travelers.
The new terror video released by Boko Haram has stirred up this debate all over again, as it is so clearly modeled on the “Jihadi John” videos that have become a hallmark of the Islamic State. Just like ISIS, the Nigerian gang released their video, entitled “Harvest of Spies,” via Twitter and sought to promote it through social media. As described by Fox News, the video “shows a farmer confessing under duress to spying for the police, and shows a second man, then cuts to footage of both, decapitated with their heads on their chests.”
WARNING: Video contains GRAPHIC IMAGES
Fox quotes Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, asserting that the video “shows Boko Haram is not a mere copycat of ISIS; rather it is incorporating itself into the Islamic State.” Khan added that supporters of ISIS have begun referring to Boko Haram as “the Islamic State Africa,” and suggested the connection has gone beyond one-sided hero worship, alleging that the Islamic State and its followers have been helping the Nigerian crew get its social media campaign off the ground.
The new video is just the latest bit of evidence of this connection. Boko Haram has been painting the ISIS flag on its prized armored fighting vehicles, using their music in its propaganda videos, shifting its public-relations strategy away from unhinged rants by attention-seeking Boko Haram figurehead Abubakar Shekau, and shifting into more professional statements issued by spokesmen, including English-language communiqués directed at Western leaders.
The UK Daily Mail adds the detail that one of the men beheaded in the video, farmer Dawoud Muhammad, hailed from Baga, the site of savage mass killings when Boko Haram took it from a multi-national force. Reports say Baga has recently been recaptured by the Nigerian military. Muhammad was forced to “confess” that he was paid by a Nigerian police officer to become an informant (with a sum equivalent to about $25) and was promised he would “become rich and will never go back to being a farmer again” if he spied on Boko Haram.