– Boko Haram rethinks? –
Donnelly noted an important shift between Shekau’s first video on the hostages, released on May 5, where he boasted about the abduction, threatened to sell the girls as “slaves” and made no mention of their possible release.
While the threat to sell the girls was repeated on Monday, Shekau in the latest video also said that Boko Haram “will never release them (the girls) until after you release our brethren”.
The floating of this condition may be a sign that Boko Haram was “reconsidering its position”, Donnelly said. “There does seem to be a reappraisal.”
Boko Haram’s insurgency, which has so often targeted defenceless civilians, often appears totally “indiscriminate” but “there is an element of this group which is well-organised and thinks strategically”, she added.
Outrage over the mass abductions has spread across the globe, with prominent personalities ranging from US First Lady Michelle Obama to Pope Francis calling for the girls immediate release. READ: World powers join search for abducted Nigerian schoolgirls.
Britain, China, France, the United States and Israel have all offered various levels of military and security cooperation to secure the girls’ release.
Boko Haram’s position may have been influenced by the offers of support from world powers, which is unprecedented in the five-year conflict.
The logistical complications of trying to hide 223 teenage hostages amid a ramped-up search operation may have also forced the Islamists to look for a negotiated deal.
“It is possible that they realised they hadn’t really thought through their strategy,” said Donnelly.