Nigerian terrorist group kidnaps hundreds of girls

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Nigerian terrorist group kidnaps hundreds of girls

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Photo courtesy of Google Images

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On April 14, the Islamic Jihadist terrorist group Boko Haram raided a secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria, kidnapping 276 girls.  The students, who are believed to be between the ages of 15 and 18, were taking final physics exams that day.  In the middle of the night, sounds of gunshots awoke the girls in their dormitories as the militants stormed into the school.  The men loaded the girls onto their trucks and transported them into the Sambisa forest to the rebel camps before burning down the school.  As of May, officials have stated that 53 of the girls have managed to escape, while around 223 still remain missing.  

Boko Haram became active in early 2001, operating first under the Salafi movement.  By 2009, the group evolved into a Salafi-Jihadist group, and their actions became more radical.  American officials have also revealed that a North African subset of Al-Qaeda had delivered supplies and military training to the Boko Haram rebels.  As a result of this Al-Qaeda influence, Boko Haram members have adopted a more intense kidnapping campaign to negotiate ransoms.  Within the past five years, Boko Haram has claimed over 4,000 lives and has displaced nearly half a million Nigerian residents.  Widespread bombings, shootings, kidnappings and raids have destabilized affected regions of Nigeria.  This terrorist group also wishes to halt women’s education, preventing nearly 10,000 girls from attending school.

“I don’t follow international law,” said Abubakar Shekau, a Boko Haram leader, in a video obtained by The Agence France-Presse and The British Broadcasting Corporation.  “There are many verses in the Qur’an that allows the seizing of slaves.  Abduction of slaves is allowed.”

In early May, Abubakar Shekau released a 17-minute long video depicting about 120 of the girls.  They were dressed in Islamic chadors, which are full-length cloaks typically worn for cultural and religious reasons, and were seen chanting prayers and verses from the religious Islamic text, the Qur’an.  Initially, many of the kidnapped girls were followers of Christianity; however, the rebels singled out two schoolgirls in the video to confirm that they were all forced into conversion.  As part of the video, Shekau threatened to enslave the girls and sell them as brides.  Furthermore, Shekau demanded the release of imprisoned Boko Haram followers in exchange for the return of the abducted girls.  Officials say that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has rejected plans to negotiate with the demands of the militant group.

The name “Boko Haram” can be roughly translated to “western education is sinful,” which correlates with the terrorist group’s belief that western theology and ideas corrupt Muslims.  Guided by the notion that these insincere, westernized Muslims control Nigeria, the terrorist sect believes in the establishment of a new Islamic state that strictly adheres to the Islamic law, known as Sharia.  To achieve this ideal, members forbid educational, social and religious movements relating to the western world.

President Jonathan recently accepted international aid for the search and rescue missions.  Surrounding African countries have agreed to share information and border surveillance intelligence, while Western nations have provided air surveillance and technical knowledge.  In reaction to the abductions, the United States has launched a team of approximately 30 advisors that will provide military logistics and technological expertise to assist the Nigerian government.  The U.S. has sent out surveillance drones, both manned and unmanned, to survey the land, and officials have begun analyzing satellite imagery of the surrounding area.  A strong international effort has emerged with help from other nations including Britain, France, China and Israel.

Nigerian citizens are growing increasingly frustrated with the attempts of the Nigerian government to rescue the missing teenagers.  The Nigerian government is currently aware of the location concerning the missing girls; however, the army has not used force in order to rescue the girls nor will it release the location.  The U.S. has recently dispatched 80 troops to Chad in order to aid in the mission.

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