Boko Haram beheading video suggests group is 'incorporating itself into Islamic State' with 'Isis-like' production techniques

Experts fear group is trying to create closer ties with Isis

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The Independent Online

A video released by Boko Haram purporting to show the beheading of two hostages is raising fears the extremist group is trying to create closer ties with Isis.

The film, released via social media on Monday, shows militants standing behind two men who are bound and on their knees.

Its graphics and advanced editing techniques echo beheading videos and well-produced propaganda released by Isis through its various media arms.

The video, entitled 'Harvest of Spies', sees one of the bound men asked to say his name and where he is from. He introduces himself as Dawoud Muhammad, a farmer from the Nigerian town of Baga, and says he was one of three men bribed by police to spy on the Islamist militant group. The second man says he is from Michika in Adamawa.

A militant stands behind him brandishing a knife in a scene comparable to the actions of Jihadi John, the British Isis militant, who was seen standing behind hostages from the UK, the US and Japan and wielding a knife.

26-year-old 'Jihadi John' is believed to have left Britain in 2012-13

Nigeria’s army claimed territories in Baga were recaptured from Boko Haram in recent months. In January, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the massacre of up to 2,000 civilians in Baga.

A flag can be clearly seen in the corner of the video, another production aspect well established in Isis videos. Speech is translated into English, French and Arabic in subtitles accompanying the footage.

The film moves to another scene showing their decapitated bodies. It was not possible to confirm the film's authenticity.

In February, Boko Haram released a trailer followed by a feature-length piece of propaganda. Isis released a trailer six months before followed by a full length ‘Flames of War video threatening US troops in Iraq.

The US-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) monitor said Boko Haram's image is being "shaped" by Isis's media wing. 

“This latest release shows Boko Haram is not a mere copycat of Isis; rather, it is incorporating itself into the Islamic State,” Veryan Khan, editorial director of the TRAC said.

“Islamic State (Isis) supporters are already starting to call Boko Haram the ‘Islamic State Africa.'"

J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Centre at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think tank who testified at a US Congressional hearing on Boko Haram, said that there were “tantalizing clues that should not be lightly dismissed” of a merging of Isis and Boko Haram, according to Al Arabiya.

Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, in a video

He cited the salutations of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau’s towards Isis’s self-declared ‘caliphate’ and the black Islamist flag, similar to that used by Isis, as an example of this.

Boko Haram is also pursuing territories in a "caliphate-orientated strategy" like that of Isis, he added. 

Jacob Zenn, an analyst at the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation think tank, said “there are real links between the groups, beyond only shared ideology".

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has said Boko Haram is allied to both al-Qaeda and Isis, though that has not been confirmed by the group itself.

Additional reporting by Reuters and Associated Press