Special Analysis: Ahmad Salkida, the Linkman and the Voice of Boko Haram/ISWAP

In many fora, it has been stated that guns and tanks are not the only weapons of war, that propaganda is as well a weapon of war. According to credible information, Ahmad Salkida, the former reporter with Daily Trust can as well be said to be the “linkman and the voice of BH in the wilderness. “

Ahmad Salkida who is known for speaking on behalf of the sect has now carried on a campaign to change the Boko Haram/ISWAP narrative all in an attempt to bolster the image of the group through propaganda.

This much was revealed by a close associate of Ahmad Salkida who pleaded anonymity. He stated that since his return to the country from Dubai, Ahmad Salkida had maintained close contact with the Abubakar Shekau faction of Boko Haram, always acting as the linkman between it and some organizations. This much was highlighted by Ahmad Salkida himself in his special report titled “Why Troops are losing Ground to ISWAP.”

He indeed confirmed that “The terror groups, in recent times, have received a flush of funds from ransom paid to them allegedly by the government.”. in the same report, he revealed some intricate details about the operations of Boko Haram/ISWAP such as “In fact, the situation appeared so dire as Nigerian troops facing the onslaught of the combined affront of insurgency from terror groups, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram forces, beat a steady retreat, incurring monumental losses of locational facilities.”

“Within two weeks, the Nigerian troops had retreated tactically or been overrun in strategic military bases. Out of 20 military bases in northern and central Borno where Nigerian troops were in control, 14 had been overrun or altogether shut down.” This much Ahmad Salkida revealed. While there was a bit of exaggeration in the prose, the fact remains that he is privy to sensitive government information. For example, he was quoted as saying there are 20 military bases in Northern and Central Borno.

The question thus us how did he know the number of military bases in Northern and Central Borno? And how did he know the exact figure that had been overrun or shutdown? The conspiracy theorist would argue that it is either Ahmad Salkida is supplied information by the Sect, or he is carrying out espionage activities on the military and passing same to the sect.

Ahmad Salkida’s analysis indeed confirmed the position of the military when it stated that Boko Haram terrorist now employs the use of drones to monitor the movement of troops in the battlefield. Though covet in delivery, it nonetheless passed a powerful message from an insider to the outside world of the activities of the group. As regards this, he said

“The insurgents are riding the momentum and are motivated in manners that are completely alien to the military. With an enlarged war chest, strategic control of the economic mainstay of the Chad Basin cross-cutting fishing, all season farming, water and control of cross-border trade routes, the insurgents are looking formidable.”

“No wonder, they have recently scaled up recruitment of new fighters across both English and French-speaking countries in the surrounding countries of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. Information gleaned from contacts within the fold of ISWAP paint an insight that seems to have challenged the position of politicians and the military in respect of holding territory. ISWAP always considered the territories of Northern and Central Borno their Caliphate territories. The presence of the Nigerian troops and particularly military bases were considered invasion by the military.”

This brings us to the propaganda angle to the whole episode. As a flashback, governments during the First World War devoted massive resources and vast amounts of effort to producing material designed to shape opinion and action internationally. The efforts of actors to justify their actions, and to build international support, resulted in some of the most potent propaganda ever produced. They also shaped attitudes towards propaganda itself in the years following the end of the War.

In addition to press reporting, groups and individuals attempted to influence opinion using a wide range of pamphlets, cartoons, and longer books. German efforts in the USA centred on the production of vast numbers of publications. This explains the recent special report by Ahmad Salkida on why troops are losing ground to ISWAP.

It is consequently instructive to state that Ahmad Salkida was indeed a linkman for the ISAWP/Boko Haram when he alluded that Boko Haram/ISWAP “have secured the economic lines in the territories they control. The Lake Chad territories have become more fertile for farmers and more viable for commercial fishing activities. They have largely crippled the fish and onions markets in Maiduguri. In its stead, they have opened secured trading locations in Kinchandi, in the Niger Republic and another in Kusiri, in Cameroon. Nigerian traders rely on the market in Kusiri, Cameroon through Mubi, in Adamawa. The other in Kinchandi, in the Niger Republic. The Nigerian market in Hadeja, Jigawa state depends heavily on the market in the Niger Republic.”

“The outlook of the map in the battle theatres is grim. The territories that constitute Northern Borno are 10 Local Government Areas lying north of Maiduguri and bearing natural land borders with three countries namely the Niger Republic, Chad, and Cameroon. ISWAP have full sway in these territories currently. The territories that constitute Borno Central are made up of eight Local Government Areas, and both ISWAP and Boko Haram have significant footholds in these territories. Southern Borno, made up of nine Local Government Areas, is the least affected, except flashpoints such as Gwoza, Damboa, and Chibok. With barely 45 days to the presidential election in Nigeria, there seems to be more energy at official quarters to cover up the tragic situation than acknowledging it.”

The above analysis not only raises a red flag; it also questions the sources of the quantum of information at the disposal of Ahmad Salkida. Even though the bulk of the information provided by Ahmad Salkida are half-truths, it reinforces the assumptions that there is more than meets the eyes in his analysis, and also the timing of his report.

He also confirmed earlier suspicion that he was under the radar of the international network determined to destabilize Nigeria through the unfounded report released by the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) when he quoted a part of the story in his analysis.

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