Abubakar Shekau, the known leader of Boko Haram, an Islamic militant extremists sect, has surfaced in a newly released video with taunting declarations of intentions to sell more than 200 Nigerian girls kidnapped out of bed at a boarding school back in April. The 57-minute video obtained by the press shows Shekau sneering into the camera with confessions of abducting the girls, and his plans to sell them in the marketplace for the purpose of marriage.
The story has been followed by human rights groups and has finally been getting mass coverage by the world press. The Nigerian government says they are doing what they can to find the missing girls, but with each passing day chances of successfully bringing the students back home to safety seem more elusive. Nigerian officials believe that in the nearly three weeks since their abduction a number of the girls may have been transported out of Nigeria to neighboring countries like Chad and Niger. Citizens are blaming the Nigerian government for their slow response and ineffective rescue efforts. One government official says they are remaining committed to locating the girls while admitting that better efforts were needed in explaining the situation to the world.
Having received military training from al Qaeda affiliates, Boko Haram has been identified by the U.S State Department as a terrorist organization as recently as last November. According to reports, the militant extremists have been responsible for attacks on Nigerian government and civilian targets in recent years. Boko Haram has been at the center of the deaths of a number of innocent citizens throughout the region with bombings in churches, schools, and government buildings. The group is also reportedly opposed to the education of women. The term Boko Haram is translated to mean “Western education is sin.” In his video address, Abubakar Shekau proclaimed that instead of school the girls should get married, hence his motive to sell them off.
Meanwhile miles away, the world is gathering in cities like Los Angeles and London holding demonstrations outside of the Nigerian consulates with a plea to the country’s government to find and return the girls safely to their families. Social media has caught fire as people around the world are spreading the message via Twitter, which has been trending for days with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Hilary Clinton has also taken to social media to pronounce that education is a basic human right for all girls and the world needs to stand up to terrorism.
Families of the girls have been apprehensive to talk to the media and police for fear of the extremists harming or killing their daughters. According to reports, the girls are said to be from neighboring communities where approximately 72 percent of young children do not attend school and in some areas of the region, girls remain at a disadvantaged ratio of one girl for every three boys. At this point officials do not know if Boko Haram’s plan to sell the students has even begun to be carried out. It has been reported that a small number of abducted girls, while still missing, have managed to escape the grip of their captors while the world watches and prays for the safe return of all.
By Hal Banfield