Boko Haram

Blast Kills 21 at Plaza in Nigerian Capital

Submitted by Emily on Thu, 2014-06-26 05:49

Icon (90x60): 

Boko Haram Kidnapping Boys from Neighboring Cameroon for Child Soldiers

Submitted by Emily on Tue, 2014-06-24 09:56

Icon (90x60): 

Boko Haram Kidnaps More Girls

Submitted by Emily on Wed, 2014-06-11 10:40

Icon (90x60): 

Nigeria: Then They Came For The Girls...

Emmanuel Ogebe

The saga of over 200 school girls abducted by Nigerian terror group Boko Haram has witnessed yet another cruel twist. Authorities have now revised the estimates from an initial hundred to two hundred forty three and then to two hundred seventy six. The new figure is conservative given that the government says about 400 female students were present at the time. The process of accounting for the non-abducted is still ongoing.

Whether or not the government ever gets the figures right, there is a child-shaped vacuum in each parents heart that aches for each daughter turned dubitable statistic.

Beyond the numbers is the deeply disturbing fact that this incident highlights the stark brutality of the terror war being waged against Nigeria.

On April 14, a week before I arrived in Nigeria on a relief mission, suspected Boko Haram insurgents attacked the predominantly Christian village of Chibok and herded of hundreds of innocent female students.

The national and global news reports have been picking it up but this is not the first time jihadist group Boko Haram has conducted abductions.

In 2005, Boko Haram infamously abducted Christian pastors and moved them into their mountain camps where they were used as slaves until their subsequent rescue by the Nigerian army.

In 2009, Boko Haram's leader, Mohammed Yusuf, abducted scores of pastors and Christians and kept them in his mosque grounds in the heart of Maiduguri, capital of northeastern Borno state where the terrorists are largely based. In a notorious conversion ceremony, he asked them to convert or die and Yusuf personally beheaded pastor George Ojih who refused to renounce his Christian faith. The surviving Christians who recanted their faith after the public decapitation were to be rescued only when the Nigerian army captured the  terrorists' campus. Yusuf died in police custody shortly after his arrest.

Post-2009, Boko Haram, headed by the terrorist Abu Shekau, has evolved into a lethal, blood thirsty and sophisticated jihadist group with a combination of media savvy and advanced weaponry. The START Report ranked it the second deadliest terror group in the world in 2012.

Shekau oversaw the southward expansion of Boko Haram's theater of conflict, and in 2011 four bombings occurred around the nation's capital, Abuja: the police headquarters building in June, All Christian Fellowship church in July, the United Nation's building in August and St Theresa's Catholic Church in December. That Christmas Day suicide bombing had the highest number of casualties in the capital area – 44 lives – before the April 14, 2014 bus station attack that claimed double that figure.

Boko Haram and it's offshoot Ansaru have also been linked to several kidnappings for ransom of Westerners in Northern Nigeria and Cameroun. Rescue attempts by the army resulted in executions of hostages from Italy, UK, and Germany amongst others. The list of foreign casualties at the terrorists’ hands has exceeded fifteen nationalities.

However it is the abduction of 276 school girls the same week of the bombings that has focused global attention on Boko Haram and it's previously unknown history of gender-based violence.

While the world watched in helpless horror the hundreds missing on Malaysian flight 370 followed by the South Korean ferry disaster, Boko Haram's capture of Chibok's children is a new low of man's inhumanity to woman, or more appropriately, girl child, that boggles the mind for its sheer avoidability.

Sadly, this was not completely unforeseen. A September 2013 fact-finding mission I conducted determined that Boko Haram had began specifically targeting females and school children.

Earlier, we had encountered a lady, Mrs Shettima, whose husband was killed in front of her kids for refusing to convert to Islam. Irritated by her crying daughters, the terrorists abducted them. They were aged seven and nine at the time of the 2012 incident.

Far from being an isolated incident, it wasn't until our unscheduled rescue of a fleeing female Boko Haram slave bride that the systematic pattern of female targeting became evident.

In Feb 2012, we visited an IDP camp for Christians who had fled coordinated house-to-house killings in northeastern Yobe state. Their homes were marked with graffiti and at night terrorists would come in and kill only the men. This was Boko Haram's strategy for gendercide and religicide.

With the massive flight of men, it was only a matter of time for the ever-resilient terrorists to devise a strategy that encompasses women. The abduction of these low value targets in terms of ransom is again a clear reminder that at its core this is a religious jihad as Boko Haram has repeatedly declared and not an economic rebellion as others would have us believe.

How about schools? Why school kids? Boko Haram is famously anti-Western education. Pakistan and Nigeria accounted for more terror attacks on schools than the rest of the world combined in 2012.

While those attacks were mostly on empty school buildings, there was the ocassional campus massacre like the Mubi polytechnic attack of October 1, 2012. Students were asked their names and religion, asked to recite a Quranic verse and, when they failed, were killed.

By 2014, Boko Haram attacked a middle school and butchered 59 boys in a horrific massacre that set a new moral, age and terror low for the jihadists. Survivors reported that their genitals were methodically checked for pubic hair growth to determine their eligibility for slaughter. In northern Nigeria, you don't need to be as outspoken as Malala to get shot in the head. You just need to show up at school.

The conclusion of our study is that with the shuttering of many churches in the northeast, the mass displacement of mostly religious and ethnic minorities either as IDPs within Nigeria or refugees in neighboring countries, Boko Haram needs other soft targets.

In Yobe state, from a high of over 1000 churches, barely 80 pastors now remain according to a pastor from there we interviewed - over 95% attrition - percentages higher than the decimation of Christians in Iraq. The Buni Yadi middle school massacre in February 2014 was in Yobe state. It was also the first time children that young were killed on such a scale. Yobe state has been virtually de-christianized and Boko Haram released a soundtrack stating as much.

During that attack, the attackers warned female students to leave school and get married. They were of "marriageable" age.

A Chibok victim we spoke to had his house bombed by the terrorists. 15 members of his family were amongst the abducted girls.  His niece who escaped the Boko Haram camp by crawling under a briar fence that badly scarred her back quotes her captors, "school is bad." They promised to "share" the girls out in “marriage.”

Ultimately the Chibok abductions highlight two main issues with regard to the state that are deeply unsettling. The fact that the terrorists were able to con the principal into handing over the girls “to protect them” and then take them like lambs to the slaughter, creates a credibility crisis for government directives on future evacuations.

This is aggravated by a crisis of confidence in the government's response to the kidnappings. A military statement calling for "prayer" was decidedly telling on what the strategy is. There are no known lines of communication or negotiation with the terrorists and parents trooped through the forests in search of their children with no visible presence of the army in a notorious terrorist enclave.

Sadly, the terrorists now know what atrocities garner headlines and being resilient and media savvy, they will come for girls. Again.

Worse still, with inadequate record keeping, a lack of a citizen database, absence of human impact responses and systemic dissimulation as state strategy, it will be difficult to tell if all the Chibok girls will ever be rescued or accounted for - whether 243 or 276. For the parents, the child-shaped vacuum in their ventricles render these statistics moot.

As we analyzed Boko Haram's rules of engagement which forbid the direct killing of women in combat (but not in mass explosions) a female colleague remarked, "there are things you can do to a woman that are worse than death."

Even if every Chibok child were recovered alive, this is a hard truth that requires immediate contingency planning. Nigeria's lost girls could all be found but still yet lost...


Emmanuel Ogebe is an international attorney and human rights advocate. He is an expert on the Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram and has testified about the group before members of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.


Watch exclusive clip from Honor Diaries - breaking the silence about honor violence against women.

Nigeria: More Schoolgirls Held by Boko Haram Than Thought

Submitted by Emily on Mon, 2014-05-05 05:06

Icon (90x60): 

Boko Haram Abducts More Than 230 Girls in Nigeria: 190 Still Unaccounted For

Submitted by Emily on Fri, 2014-04-25 07:52

Icon (90x60): 

Boko Haram Attacks Nigerian Military Airbase

Submitted by Emily on Tue, 2013-12-03 07:03

Icon (90x60): 

Tue, July 9, 2013 U.S. Refuses to Designate Nigerian Jihadists as Foreign Terror Group

Victims of Boko Haram terror attack in Nigeria. (Photo: © Reuters)

Victims of Boko Haram terror attack in Nigeria. (Photo: © Reuters)

Ryan Mauro and Matt Carmel

The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Boko Haram group in Nigeria is, by any definition, a foreign terrorist organization. The Obama Administration is refusing to designate it as such, arguing that it is not a direct threat to the U.S. In other words, it is choosing appeasement over moral clarity.

Boko Haram is roughly translated to mean that Western education is sacrilegious. The Islamist group is openly committed to “war” against the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to create a “pure” Islamic country governed by Sharia law. Members often cite the Koranic verse, “anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among transgressors.”

The terrorist group was created in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim Borno State, located in northeastern Nigeria by an Islamist cleric named Muhammad Yusuf, who established a religious complex that consisted of a mosque and an Islamic school. It attracted poor Muslim families throughout Nigeria and in neighboring countries as well. His school quickly pushed a political agenda to “create an Islamic state” in Nigeria, and his complex became a recruiting ground for jihadists against the Nigerian government.

Yusuf was killed after a raid on his headquarters. Boko Haram was then taken over by Abubakar Shekau, who brought it in an even more radical direction. The group had previously attacked security personnel, government buildings and critics, but in 2010, Shekau had the group attack a prison in Bauchi State, freeing hundreds of Boko Haram supporters.

The group then attacked the United Nations building in Abuja, killing 23 and injuring 80 in one of the deadliest attacks in U.N. history. It set off multiple bombs on Christmas. Since August 2011, Boko Haram has planted bombs almost every single week, with churches being a favorite target. Nigeria has been called the most dangerous country in the world for a Christian to live in.

In January 2012, the group carried out its most deadly attack yet, killing more than 180 people in Nigeria’s largest city, Kano. In a video clip released shortly after the attack, Shekau said, “I enjoy killing anyone that Allah commands me to kill – the way I enjoy killing chickens and rams.” Since then, Boko Haram has attacked communication lines and burned down schools. Since 2009, the group has been linked to 3,600 deaths.

Boko Haram’s main spokesperson, Abu Qaqa, publicly said in January 2012 that Boko Haram is a “spiritual follower” of Al-Qaeda. The connection to Al-Qaeda goes far beyond just ideological similarities. The spokesman said, “al-Qaeda are our elder brothers … our leader traveled to Saudi Arabia and met al-Qaeda there. We enjoy financial and technical support from them. Anything we want from them, we ask.”

Boko Haram members have also been trained by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The group is also linked to al-Shabaab in Somalia, both Al-Qaeda affiliates and both designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

Just like Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram considers its violent jihad to be a matter of religious obligation and will not compromise. Qaqa declared:

“We will consider negotiation only when we have brought the government to their knees … we will only put aside our arms—but we will not lay them down. You don’t put down your arms in Islam, you only put them aside.”

Three senior Boko Haram operatives including Shekau were labeled as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” in June 2012, but the group as a whole is yet to be designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. To be designated as such, a group must fit three criteria: It must be foreign, engaged in terrorist activity or retain the intent to engage in terrorist activity, and it must threaten the national security of the U.S. or its nationals.

Boko Haram’s qualification for this designation seems simple enough: It is located in Nigeria, carries out terrorist attacks and, as an Al-Qaeda-linked group, obviously threatens the U.S. and its nationals overseas. After all, if Boko Haram has no problem blowing up churches and killing Nigerian Muslims and kidnapping French families, it will have no qualms about killing an American.

The major reason that the U.S. has not designated Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is because it is viewed as only a regional threat. Last month, President Obama attributed the extremism of Boko Haram and other African terrorist groups to how “countries are not delivering for their people and where there sources of conflict and underlining frustrations that have not been adequately dealt with.”

In a major speech in May, President Obama emphasized that “Groups like AQAP [Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al-Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States.”

The president also said, “And while we are vigilant for signs that these groups may pose a transnational threat, most are focused on operating in the countries and regions where they are based.”  

By Shekau’s own words, Boko Haram threatens the U.S., its allies and its nationals. In November 2012, he declared, “O America, die with your fury” and pledged to fight “the Jews and the Crusader Christians.” As the Long War Journal summarizes, he “said he and his fighters support jihad in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Chechnya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Algeria, Libya, and Mali.”

Groups like the Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Chechen terrorists could just as easily be seen as regional threats. But, AQAP has inspired violence and advised terrorists who then attacked America. The Pakistani Taliban was behind the near-explosion of a car bomb in Times Square 2010. The Boston bombers likely had a foreign Chechen connection.

At the very least, it cannot be denied that groups like Boko Haram indoctrinate others into committing acts of violence. The threat isn’t from the group’s immediate aims; it’s from the ideology it spreads.

The U.S. stance on Boko Haram is weak, morally bankrupt and counter-productive.

While the U.S. fails to act, the U.K. announced today that it's formally recognized Boko Haram as the terrorist organization that it is.

Click here to sign Clarion Project's petition calling on the Obama administration to designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Make a difference, sign now.


Ryan Mauro (left) is the’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.

Matt Carmel is an intern at the Clarion Project.




Syndicate content