Last night, I read a couple of tweets which had me baffled and disheartened. They concerned the interview given to an American journalist by a member of Boko Haram, the terrorist group which has turned the north-eastern part of our country into a war zone, and continues to hold anywhere between 100 and 280 schoolgirls it kidnapped from their school hostage.
According to this person, the fact that Boko Haram gave an interview to an American journalist is proof that America supports Boko Haram. It is this sort of astonishing stupidity which makes me sometimes wonder if freedom of speech is really such a glorious thing. And when I asked if interviews granted by Abacha, Saddam Hussein, and others of similar ilk to foreign journalists amounted to support for their regimes by the countries of origin of those journalists, another person took to twitter to inform me that American support can be seen from multiple factions within American society and government!
At times like this, I despair for my country. For the uneducated (or plain daft), the fact that a journalist is granted access to interview a wanted terrorist is nothing more than the said terrorist understanding and feeding the curiosity of the media and public at large while vigorously massaging his own ego. It is also why such figures around the world seek out reputable media personalities for the purpose of getting their viewpoints, such as they are, across. These interviews serve to alert governments of their current physical and mental condition, as well as their movements. Indeed, there is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to interviews of the late Osama bin Laden, and you can be sure that any accompanying videos would have been studied endlessly for clues by the security agencies hunting him.
Terrorists crave publicity. It is why their targets are highly visible, and while crowing about your successes via YouTube videos is all well and good, being able to sit down with a journalist and try to explain why you’re not a murderous sociopath but a glorious leader on a holy quest is much better, even if it does come with exponentially increased risks to your continued state of being alive.
The world craves further information on Boko Haram, and journalists are there to shine a light on not just the aftermath of their activities, but, through such interviews, the mentality of the members of such organisations. Thus far, Boko Haram has defied all efforts of our own government to put an end to their menace, and we have been forced to accept foreign assistance to defeat them. I have no doubt that a Boko Haram member being interviewed as to the raison d’erte of his organisation is unlikely to proclaim they wish for freedom and stuffed toys for everybody. He would rather state that they exist to spread their philosophy via guns and IEDs, and don’t care about the civilians they’ve murdered. That is surely a message worth alerting the world about, and if they’ve chosen to further expose their violent, hateful, and murderous philosophy to a wider audience, that can only help hasten their downfall.
That Nigerians would choose to cast aspersions on the medium they chose rather than the focus on the horror of the message is further evidence of the sad state of our polity.
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