Connect with us

News

How Jihadists in Mali are using WhatsApp to recruit fighters5 min read

“Our children are leaving and getting themselves killed with Koufa, and there’s more and more of them every day”

Published

on

How Jihadists in Mali are using WhatsApp to recruit fighters

A digital war is unfolding in Mali alongside a jihadist conflict that has claimed thousands of lives: the battle to sway young minds is being waged on the mobile phone.

“Jihadists today are recruiting on WhatsApp. We have to stop the bloodshed,” said Hama Cisse, a moderate imam.

He says fiery sermons relayed through the mobile phone application by jihadist leader Amadou Koufa are luring young men from the Fulani ethnic community to join his ranks.

“Our children are leaving and getting themselves killed with Koufa, and there’s more and more of them every day,” Cisse said.

In the 1980s, then a Quranic student, Koufa was a roving storyteller — a deep-rooted oral tradition in Mali — reciting love poems in exchange for a few coins.

Much later, after completing his religious education abroad, Koufa re-invented himself as radical, preaching a hardline form of Islam.

Using his honed oratorical skills and stirring ancient resentments against elites, his message went straight to the heart of many young Fulani, also called Peuls, whose herding community has long battled poverty and stigma.

His means for channelling this message have kept in lockstep with technology.

Sermons that were once broadcast on the radio and then distributed by audiocassette are now transmitted by WhatsApp — the messaging app of choice in a country that currently boasts 150 cell phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, but little internet coverage.

Many in the Fulani community have direct knowledge of a young man drawn into the ranks of the Katiba Macina, the biggest of the militias wreaking carnage in central Mali and stirring up fighting between ethnic groups.

In addition to the mounting death toll, hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes and hundreds of schools have closed as teachers flee the jihadists.

In other communities, many point the finger of blame at the Fulani people as a whole, for there are longstanding frictions between this herder group and sedentary farmers. Today, tit-for-tat violence has become a tragic, near-daily act.

The jihadists’ strategy of division and provocation is timeless — but the tactics are relentlessly modern.

Digital technology is being used as a recruiting sergeant. Pictures of butchered corpses or torched villages or footage of clashes with the army are the weapons, aimed at both enraging and persuading.

Moderates fight back –

But the radicals are not the only voice.

Moderates, too, are taking their message of Islamic tolerance to young Fulani, seeking to counter distortion and propaganda.

One of them is Cisse, who said he “closely knew” Koufa in the 1980s when he too was a religious student.

Cisse, 55, regularly makes radio broadcasts from the capital Bamako, on the Fulani radio station Tabital Pulaaku, which are immediately retransmitted via WhatsApp.

In one notable intervention this year, during Ramadan, Cisse directly targeted Koufa and those who “lap up his words”.

“He said that before he came, the Macina (a region in central Mali) wasn’t Islamic, that before he came along, it was dark. I told him he didn’t bring Islam to the Macina, he brought the Wahhabis, and it’s not the same,” Cisse said, referring to the Saudi-inspired puritanical strand of Islam.

“A few days later, Koufa gave a nasty reply — he was angry.”

Cisse is from the Mopti region, but he has been unable to go back since he started receiving death threats in 2016.

Others who have joined the fight do not claim to have a religious rank, but simply wish to end a taboo of silence that swelled as the jihadists ascended.

One of them is Ousmane Bocoum, 36, who sells cloth skirts at a market in Mopti. 

The flamboyantly dressed trader spends his spare moments combing the internet for sermons that distort Islam, and pointing them out to his contacts who then counter the propaganda on their WhatsApp and Facebook groups.

“I explain what the Quran really says,” Bocoum said.

“Every person is in at least a dozen different WhatsApp groups, people forward the messages and usually I have a reaction within half an hour.”

Many of those reactions are insults or threats, but there are often useful exchanges.

“It’s my faith which prompted me to act,” said Bocoum, who met with US lawmakers during a visit to Washington in July.

“I don’t fight them, I simply want to bring them back to reason.”

Last year, he said, he set up a “debate” with Koufa’s men in Mopti.

“They accepted but then at the last moment, Koufa issued a message forbidding them to come. He was worried about their safety.”

That failure illustrates one of the problems of finding common ground through dialogue — an approach espoused in June by the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank but rejected by the government in Bamako.

Back to the plough? –

Bocoum is also exploring an innovative path aimed at “deconstructing” the rhetoric of the jihadists to make it less alluring to the young.

In March, he set up a group in Mopti called the Association of Preachers for the Preservation of Unity and Social Peace.

The goal is to draw on traditional doctors or teachers in villages who are not tempted by the idea of collaborating with Koufa and are willing to give children an enlightened Quranic education.

In exchange, the association would provide agricultural help for the poor and for Quranic schools — each participating village would set aside five hectares (12 acres) of land for this purpose.

This way, families living in rural areas that have been abandoned de facto by the state would regain trust in their future, and a vicious circle would become a virtuous one, Bocoum hopes.

Thanks to word of mouth, recruits to the jihad would return home.

“Fathers would speak to their sons, uncles would speak to their nephews, persuading them to come home and cultivate their fields,” he said.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

Tell your story the right way

Have you witnessed a news worthy event? Want to become our citizen journalist and tell your own stories?

Send your stories to us or contact us via:
Email: digitalnc@newscentral.ng
Social media: Twitter and Facebook @NewsCentralTV
WhatsApp: Text or call +234 901 190 0000 .

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Lifestyle News

Richard Branson apologises to South Africa for ‘non-inclusive’ tweet

yesterday’s choice of a photo to go with my tweet clearly lacked diversity. Apologies

Published

on

Richard Branson apologises to South Africa for 'non-inclusive' tweet

British billionaire and Virgin founder Richard Branson apologised on Tuesday for posting a picture on Twitter he admitted “clearly lacked diversity” as he launched his new entrepreneurship development centre in South Africa.

On Monday he tweeted a picture of himself and eight others captioned “We aim to become the heart of entrepreneurship in Southern Africa”.

It featured no blacks in a country where they make up 80 per cent of the population.

That sparked outrage as racial tensions remain high and the majority black population is still economically marginalised 25 years after apartheid.

“Where did you find so many white people in South Africa?” one tweet said.

“I wish there were more BLACK entrepreneurs in this picture,” @NomsBomba said.

Following the flurry of angry and sarcastic tweets targeting the mogul, who runs a chain of gyms in South Africa and whose airline daily flies the London-Johannesburg route, Branson deleted the tweet and apologised.

“The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship is for all South Africans, but yesterday’s choice of a photo to go with my tweet clearly lacked diversity. Apologies,” he said.

The centre serves as business development hub aimed at supporting entrepreneurs.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

Tell your story the right way

Have you witnessed a news worthy event? Want to become our citizen journalist and tell your own stories?

Send your stories to us or contact us via:
Email: digitalnc@newscentral.ng
Social media: Twitter and Facebook @NewsCentralTV
WhatsApp: Text or call +234 901 190 0000 .

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Entertainment

Davido’s elder brother, Adewale Adeleke shows off wedding venue

It is not surprising to see Adewale Adeleke settle for the expensive Emirates Palace for his wedding.

Published

on

Photo Credit: Instagram - chairmanhkn

Singer Davido’s elder brother, Adewale Adeleke showed off the venue of the forthcoming wedding of him and his fiancee Adekani. The entertainment mogul with the Instagram name Chairmanhkn, took to his Instagram handle to show fans the beautiful venue for their wedding. Recall that he had earlier proposed to Adekani this year. This is happening just a few days after the naming ceremony of Davido and Chioma’s child’s dedication which held in London. 

It is such a celebration period in the lives of the Adelekes. First, it was Davido and Chioma’s engagement. Then the birth of their son, Ifeanyi Adeleke. Now, the older Adeleke and his beautiful bride-to-be are set to exchange vows. From his post, the venue of the wedding will be at the famed Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, United Arabs Emirates.

The Adelekes always have the right degree of pomp in their events and celebrations. A wedding at the Emirates Palace costs about 120,000 dirhams, that is around 32,000 USD. During Davido’s son’s dedication, the singer donned the expensive Cartier Iced Out Glasses which is sold a whopping $12,000, approximately N4.5 million. A few days ago, the singer posted a picture of an expensive-looking Richard Mille watch and captioned it “it hurt my account but I had to do it..”. Luxury is a legacy for the Adeleke family. So, it was not surprising to see Adewale Adeleke settle for the expensive Emirates Palace for his wedding.

Though the date of the wedding is not known yet, we assume it is very close. Davido had also announced his own wedding to be in 2020. Nigerians surely cannot wait!

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

Tell your story the right way

Have you witnessed a news worthy event? Want to become our citizen journalist and tell your own stories?

Send your stories to us or contact us via:
Email: digitalnc@newscentral.ng
Social media: Twitter and Facebook @NewsCentralTV
WhatsApp: Text or call +234 901 190 0000 .

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

News

Buhari celebrates nephew, long-time friend, Mamman Daura at 80

President Muhammadu Buhari has celebrated with his Nephew and long-time friend, Alhaji Mamman Daura, on his 80th birthday, congratulating him for many years of love and sacrifices for the nation, especially in his chosen career, journalism.

News Central

Published

on

Mamman Daura at 80

President Muhammadu Buhari has celebrated with his Nephew and long-time friend, Alhaji Mamman Daura, on his 80th birthday, congratulating him for many years of love and sacrifices for the nation, especially in his chosen career, journalism.

A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja, Buhari joined all family members and friends of the veteran journalist in celebrating the milestone.

President Buhari recalled, with delight, Daura’s remarkable brilliance from childhood at the Katsina Middle School and Government College which caught the attention of Northern Regional Government.

According to him, this feat earned him sponsorship for further studies in the United Kingdom in the 50’s and many years to follow, noting that the knowledge had, over time, only translated into more wisdom.

Mamman Daura at 80

The President rejoiced with the renowned journalist and bibliophile, who worked with the civil service for a while before joining the New Nigerian newspapers, where he rose to be Editor and Managing Director, before venturing to the private sector as an entrepreneur.

He noted that Daura had inspired industrial growth in the north in furniture making, textile manufacturing, aluminum smelting, and other investments.

President Buhari assured Daura that his footprint on the development of the country, and quintessential attention to family values, would always be remembered and appreciated.

He also extolled him for the visionary role he played in the banking sector and management of companies and development institutions.

The President prayed that the almighty God will grant longer life to the elder statesman, and more strength to keep pursuing his number one passion of serving humanity, especially through philanthropy

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

Tell your story the right way

Have you witnessed a news worthy event? Want to become our citizen journalist and tell your own stories?

Send your stories to us or contact us via:
Email: digitalnc@newscentral.ng
Social media: Twitter and Facebook @NewsCentralTV
WhatsApp: Text or call +234 901 190 0000 .

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Trending