bringbackourgirlsOn  14  of  April  2014  the  international  community  witnessed  one of  the  most  shocking attacks  of  Boko  Haram.  Boko Haram fighters advanced to Chibok and attacked a girls’ secondary school during the night. The girls were staying in the dormitories of the school preparing  for  their  exams,  when  the  troops  violated  the  school and –  dressed  in  military uniforms – lied to the girls that they are sent by government to rescue them as they were informed for an attack. The girls believed their story and entered the trucks, painted as the military ones, without resistance.  It  was  when  they  saw  their  school  in  flames  that  they realized that something else was wrong.

The Boko Haram organization lies back to 2002.  The group was formed under the leadership of a young fundamentalist who believed that the westernization of Nigeria, due to the British colonists, destroyed the Islamic routes of Nigeria. Mohammed Yusuf, the first leader  of  Boko  Haram,  claimed  that  the  western  lifestyle  did  not match  with  the  Islamic world  and  prompted  a  revolution  against  the  modification  of  the  Islamic  value  system. Initially the group was known as Jama’at ahlis Sunnah lid Da’wat wal Jihad, which means “people committed to the propagation of the Prophet’s teachings and jihad”. Due to Yusuf’s teachings that the western education (boko) is forbidden (haram) the group became known as Boko Haram.

Boko  Haram  uses  similar  methods  as  the  fighters  of  the “Islamic  State”,  operating  with brutal violence and numerous atrocities. During the Boko Haram raids in cities and villages hundreds of people – mostly men – are being slaughtered in front of their families, when they refuse to join Boko Haram. Women are being abducted.

The Chibok attack in April 2014, attracted the world’s attention mostly due to the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls. Most of them are still missing. There are several unanswered questions about the Chibok attack. First of all, it is reported that all secondary schools in Borno state were ordered to remain closed due to repeated attacks by Boko Haram extremists, but somehow the Chibok secondary school was reopened without official instructions. Also, government officials were informed hours before about the attack but they failed to react efficiently.

After the Chibok attack the attention of the international community turned towards Nigeria. Even  though  Boko  Haram  has  been  acting  violently  with  innumerous  brutalities  for  many years, the Chibok attack attracted the international attention and the reason was as simple as  a  hashtag  on  social  media  (it  started  from  Twitter).  Due to the “Bring Back Our Girls”(BBOG) campaign the world found out only in few weeks about the unfortunate event in Chibok. The campaign  went  viral  and  people  from  all  over  the  world  were  expressing their support to the BBOG movement.

A fair question would be “why in Chibok”? Chibok has the biggest Christian population in the Borno state. The Chibok people managed to keep their belief even during the Sokoto jihad period and refused up to today to convert to Islam.  They were in close cooperation with the British rulers during colonialism and it is believed that they have been influenced the most from the western educational system.  In  an  official  statement  Boko  Haram announced  that  the  Christian  teenage  girls  were  kidnapped  in  order  to  be  converted  to Islam and/or to be sold to fellow Muslims. Abubakar Shekau (the current leader of Boko Haram) claims on some of his YouTube videos that the girls were sold for slavery or after being converted to Islam were sold to members of the group for marriage. The only girl that managed to escape in August 2016, reported that she was given to a Boko Haram soldier for marriage and she became a mother during captivity. We should not consider  though  that  Boko  Haram  selects  only  areas  with  Christians to  express  its violence. Actually, there are several attacks towards other Muslims, mostly those that are considered by Boko Haram as “misbelievers” because they do not espouse the beliefs of jihadists.

It is observed that before the Chibok attack there were no incidents with teenage girls involved in suicide bombings.  Therefore,  it is  believed  that  the  kidnapped  girls  are  being used  by  Boko  Haram  for  such  purposes.  After  the  abduction  of  the  girls  there  were numerous terrorist attacks in public places (eg. markets, school yards, police stations etc) that involved girls of the age of 10 – 11 years old. According to Shekau’s Youtube video, the  teenagers  had  been  converted  and  they  would  now  fulfill God’s  will,  whatever  that means.  Reports  from  girls  and  women  that  managed  to  escape  from  their  kidnappers,  refer  to repeated  group  rapes  and  military  trainings.  The  Boko  Haram  seems  to  be  using  young girls  for  suicide  attacks,  against  their  will,  but  before  that  they are forced to convert to  Islam.  Those refusing are being killed.  Witnesses say that the corpses are being thrown in massive graves that sometimes remain open.

The failure of the government to react effectively in the case of the Chibok attack stoked the suspicions that members of the political elite may be involved in Boko Haram’s atrocities. Let’s  not  forget  that  besides  the  theological  ideology  that  empowers  the extremists,  there  is  also  a  lot  of  money  involved  considering  the human  trafficking operations.  Politicians  have  been  accused  for  their  involvement  in  relation  to  human trafficking especially easing the illegal transfers at the borders.  There  was  no  official  effort  to  save  the  girls  from  their  kidnappers.  Even  though  it  was known  that  the  girls  were  transferred  to  Sambisa  forest,  the  military  did  not  attempt  to search  for  them.  Only  the  day  after  the  abduction  a  local  group  called  the  Civilian  Joint Task  Force (JTF)  tried  to  find  the girls in the  forest  but  failed. That was the first and last attempt to rescue the girls and yet nothing organized by the authorities.

Boko Haram has recently declared a brotherhood with the “Islamic State” with the common goal of creating an international caliphate. Their “fight” now goes beyond Africa joining forces with the Middle East and elsewhere. The religious element in combination with the lack of fear, are very difficult to be defeated. This fact should be taken into account when analyzing contemporary terrorism. The ultimate goal of a jihadist is to join God by fulfilling His will, which in this case is to fight with all means for the implementation of the Sharia Law. Out of the 276 girls that were kidnapped on 14 of April 2014, more than 200 are still missing. Hopes for their salvation are narrowing, while it is expected that some of them may be already at the last months of their pregnancy or even the beginning of motherhood. Others, may have been victims of suicide bombings.  The local authorities proved to be incapable of protecting the girls and unable to coordinate a mission against Boko Haram. The international attention focuses on the ISIS activities in the Middle East, while the referred terrorist group is being active in Africa for several years, counting much more casualties as reported by the “Independent” on November 21, 2015.

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