Re-enforcing Radicalisation with bad PR? The Nigerian Army's Handling of Boko Haram


  • Yan St-Pierre CEO/Counter-Terrorism Consultant Modern Security Consulting Group MOSECON GmbH


Boko Haram, #bringbackourgirls, Michelle Obama, MOSECON


The organisation formerly known as Jamā'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihād' and currently known as Wilāyat Gharb Ifrīqīyyah, better known as Boko Haram, rose to international prominence in April 2014, when it kidnapped over 250 school girls from the Nigerian village of Chibok. Although the organisation is active since 2002 and began its violent insurgency in 2009, the mass kidnapping of the “Chibok Girls” attracted worldwide attention to the conflict, in large part due to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, which was actively supported by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama.

 The attention however also focused on the Nigerian government and raised questions about its fight against Boko Haram, why the kidnapping occurred, what could be done to save the girls and how the terrorists could be defeated. This focus put pressure on Goodluck Jonathan's presidency and the Nigerian army to react to the kidnappings and produce results, turning the Boko Haram insurgency into a full fledged propaganda war. While there have been many military and political changes in the eighteen months since, it could be argued that the propaganda war has turned into the main front, thereby raising numerous questions about its impact on the battlefield.