In 2014, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped from the town of Chibok in Nigeria. Boko Haram, the Nigerian based, Islamic terror group, claimed responsibility.
Boko Haram means: Western education is a sin.
Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, stated the girls should not have been in school. Boko Haram believes girls should not be educated at all; instead, girls should be married off as early as 9 years old.
Boko Haram began targeting schools in 2010. The terror group broadcasted school raids would continue as long as the Nigerian government interfered with traditional Islamic education. From 2010 to 2014 hundreds of school children have been killed in Boko Haram raids and over 10,000 children have been displaced from school settings due to Boko Haram’s “scorched earth” tendencies.
Boko Haram kidnapped boys for military personnel, but they kidnapped girls for cooks, sex slaves, and recently for suicide bombers.
Concerning the Chibok schoolgirls, Boko Haram’s leader stated slavery was allowed in his religion, Allah instructed him to sell the girls, and he was going to carry out Allah’s instructions.
This led to international outrage, a hashtag—Bring Back Our Girls—campaign, and the Nigerian government vowed to destroy Boko Haram.
In December 2015 Nigeria’s president announced that Nigeria has “technically won the war against Boko Haram.” Nigeria’s president praised the Nigerian military who received training from the British, the United States, and the French, and Nigeria’s president claimed, Boko Haram could no longer launch “conventional attacks” and was reduced to fighting with improvised explosive devices.
In other words, the Boko Haram insurgency was over.
In February 2016 I wrote an op-ed called: Casualties of Underestimation. I reminded the readers of U.S. President George W. Bush’s aircraft carrier speech six weeks following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. President Bush stood in front of a banner that said: Mission accomplished, and Bush proclaimed that major conflict in Iraq ended and the United States and its Allies prevailed.
A month later, U.S.-led coalition forces began to face major conflict again, and the same thing happened in Nigeria. One month after Nigeria’s president announced victory, Boko Haram launched a conventional attack on a village. They firebombed huts and slaughtered over 80 people. This time Boko Haram didn’t kidnap any children— they burned the children alive.
And last month, Boko Haram struck again, but Boko Haram didn’t raid a village, they targeted another school.
The Washington Post reported, “The Government Girls Science and Technical School in Dapchi, a village in northeast Nigeria, was attacked. NPR quoted witnesses saying that 12 trucks carrying insurgents and mounted machine guns drove onto the campus. The militants approached and set off explosives, dozens of students and teachers fled.” But Boko Haram tricked the girls into the trucks by telling the girls they were government soldiers there to save them.
At first, local police and Nigerian officials said there was no evidence the girls were abducted. The Guardian reported, “Nigerian authorities often deny or downplay such incidents.” Then it was reported the Nigerian military rescued 76 schoolgirls but 13 might still be missing.
Parents were relieved, but by the weekend the situation was reversed. The military rescue report was bogus, and Nigerian authorities admitted that no one was rescued and 110 schoolgirls were actually missing.
The Nigerian government still claims that Boko Haram is “technically defeated.” But security experts say Boko Haram is professionalizing their kidnapping operations, and the Dapchi schoolgirls, most likely, have already been transported across the Nigerian border into Cameroon, making them more casualties of underestimation.
(J. Pharoah Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier. He blogs at email@example.com)
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