In Nigeria, Boko Haram threatens attacks on media

A radical militant Islamist group released an 18-minute video on May 1, 2012, that threatened attacks on at least 14 local and international news outlets, according to news reports. In the video, Boko Haram, a group seeking the imposition of Sharia law in northern Nigeria, accused the outlets of biased reporting and crimes against Islam and also claimed responsibility for prior attacks on newspapers, news reports said.

Boko Haram singled out three international news organizations and 11 local newspapers in the video and accused them of misrepresenting the group’s activities, inciting the public to support the government against the group, and attacking Islam in their reporting, among other allegations, the news website Premium Times reported. The video was recorded in the Hausa language.

“These media houses have committed a lot of offences that is detrimental to Islam, and we don’t have the power to forgive them. We will take revenge on them by God’s grace,” the video said, according to a translation by the Premium Times.

The international news outlets that were mentioned in the video include the Hausa-language service of the U.S. government-funded international broadcaster Voice of America; the French government-funded international broadcaster Radio France Internationale; and Sahara Reporters, a New York-based citizen reporting news site. The 11 local newspapers named were ThisDay, Punch, Daily Sun, Vanguard, Guardian, Nation, Tribune, National Accord, Leadership, Daily Trust, and People’s Daily.

Boko Haram also claimed responsibility in the video for the April 26, 2012, coordinated attacks on the offices of three newspapers–ThisDay, The Sun, and The Moment–in the capital, Abuja, and the northern city of Kaduna, according to news reports. The group justified the attacks by blaming ThisDay for “dishonoring our prophet, Mohammed (SAW) during a beauty pageant in Kaduna in November 2002,” the video said.

In November 16, 2002, journalist Isioma Daniel wrote a column suggesting Mohammed might have a married a contestant in that year’s Miss World beauty pageant, scheduled to be held in Nigeria. The pageant was eventually canceled, and Daniel fled into exile following calls for her death, news reports said.