The good news that four girls have escaped Boko Haram’s captivity comes with more bad news: The Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group has killed over 200 people in the past week as the Nigerian president declared a new offensive.
An additional four girls are back with their families, but the circumstances surrounding their newfound freedom are in dispute. Some reports say they escaped on Tuesday while others assert that they were able to flee some time ago, shortly after the first 53 got away. It is also alleged that they did not escape but were freed by their captors because they are sick.
The Nigerian government claims it knows the location of the remaining girls. Defense Chief Air Marshal Alex Badeh hinted at non-violent efforts—meaning negotiations—when he stated, “We want our girls back, I can tell you that our military can and will do it. But we can’t kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.”
The statement buttresses earlier reports of negotiations between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram involving the release of low-level terrorists. The former President of Nigeria is meeting with relatives of Boko Haram leaders as part of these negotiations.
The obvious fear is that Boko Haram will execute the girls once a violent operation begins. If they are split into multiple groups as is believed, then a rescue becomes even riskier. The retrieval of one or more groups would likely cost the lives of those remaining.
A successful operation would require the simultaneous neutralization of all the girls’ captors. Think of the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips in 2009 from three pirates by the U.S. Marines, except it would involve rescuing over 200 girls and defeating dozens of Boko Haram terrorists.
The hostage-taking of the girls should not lead us to overlook the crimes committed by the group. On May 26, Boko Haram launched what International Christian Concern describes as a “Four Hour Reign of Terror” in the mostly Christian Borno State. Eight Christians were murdered and six churches were burnt down.
Other attacks in the state killed another 40 people. Two days earlier, Boko Haram massacred 21 people inside a church. It also assaulted three villages in Borno State, murdering another 35 people. Dozens of the terrorists wore military uniforms and had all-terrain vehicles, indicating that they are getting their supplies through bribery of security personnel.
A veteran Nigerian army officer testified to the widespread corruption of the military recently. He described an attack on May 5 where he and his colleagues only had 30 bullets each. When they came under attack, it was no contest. The corpses of three of the slain police officers were abandoned for three days as the Nigerian government refused to pay the hospital for embalmment.
The officer described a military force that is outgunned by Boko Haram. Soldiers are only paid $200 a month to put their lives on the line in a conflict zone and they often go hungry. It isn’t hard to see why job performance would be low and why many soldiers would accept bribes.
That’s the same military that’s expected to take on Boko Haram in anew full-scale offensive. Additionally, Reuters observes that Nigerian forces are already “hugely overstretched.”
About 100 Boko Haram terrorists also tried to kill three Muslim leaders on Friday. One died because of a heart attack. One report says the other two escaped, while others claim that one is missing and is thought to have been kidnapped.
Last week, the Clarion Project reported how a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria believes that a Boko Haram attack on American interests is inevitable. His fear is substantiated by Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, former leader of the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism.
“By 2012, Boko Haram was the second most deadly terrorist group in the world after Afghanistan’s Taliban as Taliban killed more people than Boko Haram. Presently, Boko Haram is the deadliest terrorist group, killing at least seven persons per attack,” Benjamin said.
Boko Haram is known to have attracted some support among Islamist radicals in the United Kingdom. A senior leader was arrestedin Sudan that was born in the U.K. He left Nigeria in 2006 and was radicalized while studying at the University of Gladmorgan, now known as the University of South Wales. He left the country and linked up with Boko Haram in 2011.
Now, shocking video has emerged of an Islamist cleric in London defending Boko Haram. The cleric, Mizanur Rahman, was previously jailed in 2007 for calling on Muslims to carry out 9/11-style attacks in Europe. He is described as a “student” of Islamist clerics Anjem Choudhary and Omar Bakri.
The sermons, which children were present for, defended the terrorist group against those “portraying them as crazed lunatics who don’t know anything about Islam or society.” The group is inspired by Islamic teachings, Rahman emphasized. This undermines American Islamist attempts to deny the ideological motivations of Boko Haram.
Rahman preached that Boko Haram is “full of good messages,” is trying to improve society and is morally superior to the Nigerian government.
“They [Boko Haram] didn’t do to these girls what the Nigerian government had been doing to the Muslims all these years,” he is recorded saying.
He also made the comment that Boko Haram’s murdering of non-Muslims is “not necessarily a bad thing.” Rahman also made a subtle comment that is quite disturbing. When he referred to the Nigerian hostages as “girls,” he corrected himself by saying, “sorry, I should say these women.” Right in line with Islamist doctrine, Rahman does not consider the young girls to be minors.
In the minds of many Westerners, Boko Haram has become synonymous with the 200 girls under its control. We cannot forget its ultra-radical ideology and murder spree. The attacks on churches and Nigerian villages don’t get much media attention, but this is a bloodthirsty group whose existence cannot be accepted.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on The Clarion Project. It is crossposted with permission.