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The Al-Barnawi faction of Boko Haram has shown the obsolete Shekau faction how to do the business of Jihad.- Prof. Moses Ochonu


 It has succeeded in getting the following with the Dapchi girls' abduction and release:
1. Got all boarding schools in the Borno-Yobe axis closed, a victory for its campaign against Western education. With little or no Western schooling, the Northeast will become an even bigger hotbed of
radicalization.
2. Set back girl-child education in the area by at least twenty years. After dropping them off, Boko Haram spent at least twenty minutes preaching to the girls to abandon Western education and "return to the path of Allah." They also dropped a subtle warning: we released you to give you a second chance to shun Western education and "return to the path of Allah," which of course they define as incompatible with Western education. I would be shocked if those girls' parents allowed them back into any Western/secular school again.
3. They scored a huge revenue haul, with an unconfirmed $20 million ransom payment. With this money, the group has bought itself another five years worth of weapons with which to challenge our soldiers, institutions, and cohesion.
4. They scored a major public relations and propaganda victory, bonding with the people of Dapchi to the point of being hailed and given a heroic farewell upon their departure from the town.
This is precisely what distinguishes Al-Barnawi from Shekau. The former is a sophisticated Jihadist who wants to win the hearts and minds of the people of the Northeast and convince them that his group can replace the decadent, secular government of Nigeria with a just, magnanimous Islamic caliphate. The latter alienates them with his murderous madness.
The takeaways are simple:
1. With today's events, Al-Barnawi has outmaneuvered Shekau and written himself into Jihadi lore in the region.
2. Al-Barnawi is infinitely more dangerous and more threatening to Nigeria's sovereignty than Shekau, who is his own enemy and is wont to self-destruct. With today's and similar acts of pretend goodwill, and by refraining from wanton killings and embarking on community reassurance gestures, Al-Barnawi is quietly normalizing and decriminalizing Boko Haram, or at least his faction of it. His Jihad has the potential to become mainstreamed, rehabilitated, accepted at the Muslim grassroots, and eventually naturalized.
3. Our struggle with Boko Haram is a long way from being over.