A video uploaded Tuesday by Boko Haram shows several militants, their faces covered with scarves, claiming that the Nigerian Muslim extremist group is still in control of their territory and that African coalition armies have not made meaningful advances in the days since President Muhammadu Buhari's inauguration on Friday. The video pokes fun at claims from the Nigerian military that it has dented Boko Haram's power in recent months.
The video has three parts: One in which a speaker claims control over Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria and that Boko Haram is in possession of military ID cards of dead Nigerian soldiers, another with militants fighting in a field and shooting fallen soldiers, and a third with the militants inspecting what they claim is a downed jet.
The video follows a string of attacks since Friday that have left dozens dead in northeastern Nigeria. A suicide bombing Tuesday killed up to 20 people at a cattle market in Maiduguri, and 30 people were killed in fighting over the weekend, the Associated Press reported. Heavy gunfire and bombing were heard elsewhere in Maiduguri Tuesday.
The video is intended to signal that Boko Haram still has strength, according to Peter Pham, head of the Atlantic Council's Africa Center. "As underscored by the string of attacks around Maiduguri and other northeastern towns over the weekend and continuing into this week, it is clear that Boko Haram is far from a spent force. Although there is no indication of when the footage in the video was shot, the timing of the release reinforces this message of an organization that remains a force to be reckoned with," he said. "President Buhari has a significant challenge ahead of him as the group continues to evolve and adapt, demonstrating again the resilience that has always characterized it – all the more reason he needs international support."
The fighting in the video is graphic. Soldiers approach several men bleeding on the ground and shoot them in the head from behind. One man appears to be stabbed repeatedly in the neck. One man is seen hanging out the broken window of a minivan.
At the end, a group of militants celebrate around what they say are the destroyed fragments of a jet. The man speaking challenges the presidents of Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, the United States and France, and the prime minister of Israel, telling each, "here are your goods."
The video also shows that Boko Haram, which goes by the name ISWAP since pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group in March, is mimicking the style and format of its Middle Eastern ally, according to Jasmine Opperman, Africa analyst at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
"Boko Haram has clearly spelled out what it is set to bring to the fight against the new president: determination to continue with attacks by small groups of fighters that still has arms such as rockets, the use of suicide bombings and bombings," she said. "The targets will remain public places, and Maiduguri will not be handed on a plate to the Nigerian government."
Buhari, a former general and military dictator, has said the headquarters of the Nigerian military will be moved to Maiduguri, where Boko Haram originated. Buhari sent a tweet Tuesday that showed him meeting with soldiers in the capital, Abuja.