Monday, May 12, 2014

Al-Qaida Opposes Boko Haram Over Kidnap Of Nigerian Schoolgirls'

al-Quaeda, a global militant Islamist orgamization, has disowned the latest act carried by the Nigerian terrorist sect Boko Haram - the abduction of the almost 300 young female students from their school in Borno State Nigeria.
 The case of the missing Chibok town girls has been a subject of growing world concern since April 14, when Boko Haram invaded the town and took some 270 girls with them.
Although some of the girls have reportedly escaped the captivity, over 200 still remain in the sect's hands.

Observers say that various Islamic and jihad groups are distancing themselves from Boko Haram, with even hard-line militants praying that God would reach out to the kidnappers and "hold them steady to the path" of Islam. Experts claim the reaction is evidence that Islamic terrorist groups are not a united front any more.

"The violence most of the African rebel groups practice makes Al Qaeda look like a bunch of schoolgirls," said Bronwyn Bruton, an Africa scholar at the Atlantic Council in Washington, the New York Times reports. "And Al Qaeda at this point is a brand — and pretty much only a brand — so you have to ask yourself how they are going to deal with the people who are doing things so hideous even the leaders of Al Qaeda are unwilling to condone them."

"Such news is spread to taint the image of the Mujahedeen," said one post on a website used by Islamic militants, the Times reports.

What little reaction there has been on jihadi internet forums to the Nigerian schoolchildren story has been a mixture of bafflement and irritation. "Why doesn't al-Qaeda intervene to order Boko Haram to release them?" says one. "It is a plot to discredit Islam," suggests another.

There has not even been a public reaction from Boko Haram's nearest branch, in the Sahara, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Al-Qaida has been encouraging supporters to avoid attacks on those they deem as innocent civilians in a PR move in order to not alienate its base. Boko Haram's actions have become an embarrassment to people who might otherwise have supported their fight against the Nigerian authorities.

Al-Qaeda's leaders have learned from their mistakes over time. In Iraq in 2006, they saw how jihadist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's constant beheadings were alienating the local population and told him to stop.

They also told al-Qaeda's Iraq branch to stop blowing up Shia mosques, as this too was adding to their unpopularity.

In Syria this year al-Qaeda formally disowned the jihadist group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) - again because of its excessive brutality.

In Yemen this year al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was quick to distance itself from the embarrassing sight - caught on CCTV and posted online by the government - of one of its fighters casually tossing a grenade into a group of terrified medics at a hospital it was raiding. It did not deny that it carried out the raid but said the man who threw the grenade was exceeding his orders and had been duly punished.

In other words, al-Qaeda's wiser heads are not insensitive to bad publicity when they can see it is costing them sympathy amongst potential supporters.

It is clear then, that unless - and this is extremely unlikely - this is a macabre plan ordered by al-Qaeda's leaders that has backfired spectacularly, Boko Haram are acting independently and following their own local agenda.

All this prompts the question of what links, if any, there are between Boko Haram in Nigeria and its al-Qaeda allies. Whatever links there have been in the past between Boko Haram and al-Qaeda's various franchises, the Nigerian group's latest actions have attracted such unanimous international condemnation that few will want to be publicly associated with them for quite some time.

Scholars say, Boko Haram now also represents a growing challenge to al-Qaeda as it seeks to cultivate more such affiliates among loosely Muslim or Islamist insurgencies across Africa, almost all of them far more brutally violent than even the acolytes of bin Laden can accept.

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