Boko Haram is a radical Islamic wanna-be ruling force in Nigeria who kidnapped nearly 300 school girls in one fell swoop in April of this year. Michelle Obama was outraged. EightyU.S. military troops flew in, vowing to never leave until the girls are found. The Nigerian government agreed to a ceasefire against the captors, claiming the group is preparing to release the girls—who they openly call “sex slaves” and threaten to sell in the market. Yet, hundreds more girls and women have been kidnapped since April by the same wanna-bes, including 60 immediately after the ceasefire proclamation and 30 more as recently as last week. Meanwhile, Boko Haram flies high over the fear of the people of Nigeria.
The truth is Americans should be afraid also. One indicator that the United States government is telling us to be afraid, without actually telling us, is that we offered a $7,000,000 reward for “information leading to the location of Abubakar Shekau” a full year before he made international headlines by leading Boko Haram to kidnap 300 of his own country’s school girls.
We might also take note of the chosen name of this group; Boko Haram literally means, “Western Education is a sin.” One source reports, “Of specific interest to the U.S. is the range of weaponry Boko Haram has at its disposal. In recent attacks, it has used automatic weapons fired from armored personnel carriers disguised as Nigerian military vehicles, as well as car bombs -- some driven by suicide bombers -- increasingly its weapon of choice for larger attacks.”
Thanks to free-flowing oil, Nigeria is the most populous and one of the wealthiest countries in Africa. Thus, the United States’ offer of 300 million dollars to help the Nigerian military—with an ulterior motive of protecting ourselves from ever-expanding global terrorism—is met with resentment. Well-founded fear that we might be heavy-handed, and a long-term controlling force, clouds a potential partnership. Meanwhile, Boko Haram has seized nearly every major town along Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, clearly indicating its intent to wreak terror beyond Nigeria’s borders. Along with Cameroon, the other neighboring countries of Benin, Chad, and Niger wait in fear. They are eager to partner with the U.S. toward both national and international security but have scant resources to offer.
All of the political and border issues notwithstanding, what of the handful of girls who made their courageous escape from this terrorist group? They report all of the girls are raped many times, serving as sex slaves. Some are used as suicide bombers or to lure Christian men to their deaths. What can we do to offer healing to such victims of fear, coercion, and even Stockholm Syndrome?
Fox News reports, “Human Rights Watch claims that Boko Haram's captives have information on the group's chain of command and its information-gathering capability, but are ‘rarely, if ever’ interviewed.” One might ask, “What don’t we want to know?”, “Why don’t we want to know it?” and, “What might this knowledge cost us?”
Could this knowledge cost us our sense of security? If these precious girls can give us insight into Boko Haram’s endgame and what their present and future capabilities are, might it force us to acknowledge the evil ravaging other corners of the world? The world is becoming increasingly small, and we can no longer sit back while the rest of the world is destroyed by global terrorism. What happens to schoolgirls in Nigeria matters to us, because it shows a desire to end our way of life and a basic disregard for humanity.
Schoolgirls in Nigeria are fighting for their basic rights – education, equality, dignity. It’s a battle we could be fighting ourselves if this evil finds its way to our borders. I wonder who will stand by us then, if we choose to disregard the sufferings of others now.