WASHINGTON, May 5, 2014 — This has not been a good month for children or parents. Only weeks after South Korean parents mourned the deaths of their teenaged children on an overcrowded ferry, Nigerian parents of more than 200 school girls are anxiously waiting to find out the fate of their girls.
Shekau released a video to AFP in which he says, “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah.”
In his hour long video, Shekau also says, “Girls, you should go and get married,” and that God told him to sell the girls.
Boko Haram, whose name loosely translated means ‘Western Education is sin,” attacked an all-girls high school in Borno state on April 14 and kidnapped approximately 276 students, news.com.au reporting that 53 girls did managed to escape.
The girls, who had been taking exams, were loaded onto trucks by the militants and taken to an unknown location.
“In Islam, it is allowed to take infidel women as slaves,” Shekau said. “In due course, we will start taking women away.”
Witnesses report seeing the trucks heading toward the border with Cameroon.
A video released shows Shekau dressed in combat fatigues standing in front of an armored personnel carrier alongside six armed men whose faces are covered. Shekau speaks in the local Hausa language and Arabic, as well as English, speaking against democracy, western education, efforts for Muslims and Christians to live in peace and rails against non-believers in Islam.
“I abducted a girl at a western education school and you are disturbed. I said western education should end. Western education should end. Girls, you should go and get married,” he said.
“I will repeat this: western education should fold up. I abducted your girls.”
“I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” Shekau said, claiming his group was holding the girls as “slaves”.
“I will marry off a woman at the age of 12. I will marry off a girl at the age of nine,” he said elsewhere in the video.
Unconfirmed reports are that girls have been taken across Nigeria’s borders with Chad and Cameroon and sold as brides for as little as $12.
The group says its goal is to implement Sharia law in Nigeria, and establish an Islamic Caliphate. It is also focused on expelling Westerners and Western customs from Nigeria.
When the group was founded in 2002, it was responsible for sporadic violence and bombings. Over the last several years, however, the group has vastly expanded its capabilities, including bombings of air force targets, killings on college campuses, attacks on churches, and attacks on schools.
Additionally, the group has become adept at coordinated attacks, previously beyond its capabilities. The same day they launched the assault on the school, Boko Haram planted a bomb on the edge of the capital, killing 75.
This is the first time, however, that the group has kidnapped students.
U.S. intelligence officers say Boko Haram’s capabilities increased thanks to newfound ties with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Shabaab, the Somali-based terrorist group responsible for the mall attack in Kenya last year. The group has also received a boost from disaffected Nigerians, who have failed to benefit from the massive oil riches flowing to the Nigerian government.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan told press on Sunday, “Wherever these girls are, we’ll get them out.”
However, his statements have brought little hope. The government has had no real leads on the location of the girls over the last three weeks since their abduction, and has had little success in stemming the violence from Boko Haram.
The abduction is likely to undercut government authority, particularly if the group makes good on its threat to sell the girls.
US Secretary of State Kerry has said that Washington will do “everything possible” to assist Nigera in bringing the children home saying that “The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime.”
Kerry, on his first official sub-Saharan Africa trip (May 26, 2014) also said:
“Boko Haram is a terrorist organisation, and they have killed wantonly and so we defend the right completely of the government of Nigeria to defend itself and to fight back against terrorists,” Kerry said as he attended an African Union summit.
“That said, I have raised the issue of human rights with the government … We have talked directly about the imperative of Nigerian troops adhering to the highest standard and not themselves engaging in human rights violations and atrocities.”
CNN is reporting on the frustration of the fact that after three weeks, no one knows where these children are or what the Nigerian Government is doing to stop Boko Haram and rescue the girls. This mass kidnapping is the latest in Boko Haram’s extremist uprising, killing thousands or persons, 1,500 this year alone according to reports, in demanding that Nigera adopt strict Sharia law, that includes that woman should not be educated.