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African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline


This screen grab image taken on February 18, 2015 from a video made available by Islamist group Boko Haram shows its leader, Abubakar Shekau, making a statement at an undisclosed location.

This screen grab image taken on February 18, 2015 from a video made available by Islamist group Boko Haram shows its leader, Abubakar Shekau, making a statement at an undisclosed location.

Central African ministers in charge of telecommunications say they are working with Nigeria to block all video posted online by Boko Haram.

The goal is to make it impossible for the Nigerian militant group to spread its propaganda. The ministers are meeting in Cameroon's capital, Yaounde, as a followup to a meeting of experts on cyber terrorism.

Cameroon's digital forensic expert, Ali Joan Beri Wacka, said Boko Haram has been using social media to recruit fighters and distribute war propaganda.

The group is well known for videos featuring its leader, Abubakar Shekau, giving strident, animated speeches, flanked by a dozen or so militants carrying assault rifles and ammunition.

Central African states believe a systematic effort is needed to stop such propaganda.

"When they slaughter people they want to create terror, they want to show they have the capability to do these things... And we are saying we have to fight against that and stop them," Wacka said.

"There are countries [where] you can not watch these types of things from their cyberspace. You can't see them, they block them and so we should be able to block them also so that our citizens are not exposed to this type of terror," he continued.

Tanko Aboubakar, of the Nigerian Communication Technologies Ministry, said officials have learned how to detect when and where Boko Haram posts a video on the Internet.

"We have the capacity to know where the video has been uploaded. Sri Lanka went to Google, whenever such thing happens they will be able to communicate and pinpoint where the video has been uploaded on the Internet," Aboubakar said.

"Seriously, we should do that. We should get a peer review mechanism, how Sri Lanka did. I believe my government will do it."

According to Cameroon's minister of Post and Telecommunication, Jean Pierre Biyiti Bi Essam, Central African states are now talking about ways Boko Haram's cyber terrorism can be stopped

He said his government has resolved to put in place infrastructure and legislation to stop or reduce cyber crimes and cyber terrorism, but that they will start with staff training.

Boko Haram had a Twitter account, but it was shut down by the social media service earlier this week.

The group's latest video, featuring Shekau, appeared on various online outlets on February 17.

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