The Nigerian military say that video footage found in captured Boko Haram camps by Nigerian soldiers may give some indication that foreign fighters are helping Boko Haram and also hold positions of power within the militant group.
The military says it is analyzing the footage to identify fighters and study the group’s internal dynamics.
The Nigerian government has previously spoken of foreign influence within the ranks of the jihadists but lacked hard evidence to back up its assertion.
Reuters reports that: “They (foreigners) carry arms and fight alongside the other terrorists,” a senior military source, who declined to be identified, said. “They are also experts and trainers.”
In 2012, Boko Haram was reported to be receiving training from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), although there has been little to back up claims of foreigners at the core of the group beyond anecdotal evidence from civilians who escaped or soldiers who fought them.
The footage shows Boko Haram administering sharia judgments in front of a big crowd in a field stained with blood with a man speaking in Sudanese Arabic.
In other parts of the film, men and women are flogged and several have hands amputated while the crowd cheers. A man is also stoned to death after being buried up to his head in a pit.
The military says it believes the events took place in southeastern Borno state in or near the town of Gwoza, Boko Haram’s former headquarters. The distinctive Mandara mountain range can be seen in the background. There was no time stamp to indicate when the half hour of video was filmed but a shorter, edited version of the film was released after the group took over Gwoza last summer.
The discovery of the footage was reported in local Nigerian media and Reuters made a request to view the footage, which was granted by the military. The Nigerian military has not publicly released the footage while its analysts worked on identification and the workings of the group.