Aisha Goni Lawal and her daughter, Aisha, at the National Hospital, Abuja, Nigeria. Photo courtesy of: The Daily Trust
by, Judd-Leonard Okafor & Nathaniel Bivan | The Daily Trust – Nigeria | h/t Glen Roberts @ Trop
At only 14 months old, baby Aisha Lawal, her own mother’s namesake, has been in hospital for a year and two months with severe burns over nearly half her body. Her hospitalization started in Maiduguri where her family fled on foot and bicycle after Boko Haram attacked their village in Bama, bombing and razing houses to the ground.
Recently her family has managed to get to National Hospital, Abuja, where she underwent a four-hour surgery. Surgeons used flesh from her thigh to reconstruct her eyelids, adding flesh to the top and bottom lids.
One of Aisha’s upper eyelids had been turned inside out, and doctors said leaving it unfixed meant Aisha could lose the eye itself due to unprotected exposure. The blast she survived had welded her left arm to her armpit. Surgeons did a skin graft to free the arm from the attachment. Scar tissue and burnt skin still cover visible parts of her body and half her head. The rest of her not visible is wrapped in bandage.
After days in trauma and intensive care unit at the hospital, where Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited her family, she and her parents-Aisha and Ibrahim Goni Lawal-are now in the hospital’s private wing, with treatment privately paid for by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Daily Trust met the family.
Daily Trust: Where were you when the attack took place?
Ibrahim Goni: We were in Bama. It was early, around five in the morning. I was in the mosque but my wife and baby were at home. That was when they attacked the town. Suddenly we heard gunshots. There were soldiers in the town at that time, that’s why we had courage to stay on before it happened.
That morning of the attack, Boko Haram insurgents set our house on fire, with my daughter inside. It was her mother who went into the room to get her. She saved her from the fire.
[Aisha’s] grandmother and my wife took her and left the town. They hired a bicycle. They were carried on the bicycle into the bush along the road to Maiduguri. They spent up to three days in the bush before they reached Maiduguri. They went to a hospital there.
DT: Where were you at that time?
Aisha Lawal: I was in the bathroom. I had just bathed baby Aisha, and she was in the bedroom. I had the baby dressed before I was bathing too. I heard gunshots so I tried to put on my clothes. My baby was crying. I came out running. The house was on fire, and my baby, too. I ran in and pulled her by the leg and brought her out.
She was already burning and screaming when I brought her out. I removed her clothes, which were on fire. I put her in my hijab and ran out with her. We went straight into the bush. The father had fled from the mosque. He didn’t enter the house. From the bush we emerged in a village whose name I don’t know.
DT: How was baby Aisha then?
Ibrahim: She was crying all through. It was at that village that we hired a bicycle for N1,500. Some people helped us, the moment they saw our situation. The person we hired the bicycle from rode it. We were brought to Konduga on the bicycle and from there buses took us to Maiduguri. They were taking people from Konduga to Maiduguri. There were so many people waiting, the buses had to come back and forth.
DT: How long was the journey from when you entered the bush in Bama to Maiduguri?
Aisha: Forty-five kilometers. We walked more than 45km on foot. We met my husband at the motor park in Maiduguri, where he was already waiting for us.
Ibrahim: When you come to Maiduguri, you don’t enter. You stay on the outskirts. If your people are aboard the inbound vehicle, you meet them. If they are not, you wait for them before you can continue the journey.
We went to Costain Hospital in Maiduguri. We paid for the treatment. Doctor asked when we came, ‘who’s baby is this’? We came forward, and has asked if we had money to treat her. I said yes, we have N20,000. They wrote prescriptions, and I bought the drugs, and they worked on her. For four months, they were writing out prescriptions.
DT: How did you come to Abuja?
Ibrahim: The Vice President [Yemi Osinbajo] came to Costain to see people affected [in the attack]. Many were pointed out to him. [That was July 1, 2015]. That’s when he said, this particular one, I will handle her treatment personally, and it is not from government money, it will be from my pocket.
One of her eyes doesn’t close, so they said they will work on it so it closes. They have separated her arm from her armpit, which was fused before. Just the hand is left. They have told us that when she grows a little, they can continue work on the hand. They said they will give us time until they finish the work.
DT: How did you manage with her before now?
Ibrahim: Nothing. We couldn’t do anything. We didn’t have any drugs to give her, couldn’t put anything on her skin. We just held her that way.
DT: How do you handle your daughter’s care?
Ibrahim: We don’t bathe her. There’s need for it, but we can’t do that. We just clean her up. There are so many bandages on her.
DT: What would you want done to the perpetrators, if they are caught?
Ibrahim: Whatever punishment the government deems fit.
Muslim terrorists were witnessed ‘..burning people alive and beheading others with chainsaws..’
by, RT | h/t Glen Roberts @ Trop
Militants from extremist group Boko Haram attacked several Nigerian towns, torching houses and fatally shooting those who fled before reportedly beheading some of the bodies with chainsaws. The string of terror attacks comes amid the presidential vote.
At least 25 people were killed and more than 30 injured in the village of Buratai in Borno state, local officials confirmed.
Surviving witnesses described gruesome scenes of murder, saying that not only did the extremists set homes on fire and shoot those trying to escape, but also decapitated the bodies.
Local politician Ibrahim Adamu, who fled the scene, told CNN that Boko Haram “slaughtered their victims like rams and decapitated them,” adding that “they burned a large part of the village and we are afraid some residents were burnt in the homes because most people had gone to bed when the gunmen struck.”
Meanwhile, at least 14 people were killed in separate attacks by the radical Islamist group in the towns of Biri and Dukku, located in Gombe state. The victims included a legislator, AP reported.
The attacks came after the Nigerian military announced Friday that it had cleared all major centers in the northeast from militants. They also coincide with the country’s presidential election, which Boko Haram had vowed to derail.
Tens of millions took to polling stations on Saturday in Africa’s most populous nation to vote in a closely contested election, with two of the 14 candidates – President Goodluck Jonathan and former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari – being the frontrunners.
Legislators for the 360-seat lower house of the Nigerian parliament are also being elected.
There were reports of attempted bombings attributed to Boko Haram at several polling stations, but those failed to disrupt the voting process and no one was injured.
The elections had been delayed due to a sharp increase in violence in the country, where 20 regions were controlled by Boko Haram extremists at the beginning of the year. On March 17, Nigeria’s army managed to regain control over large swathes of the country’s northeast, making further progress in recent days. Niger-Chad forces assisted in freeing parts of Nigeria’s border areas.
That, however, did not stop the attacks, as the extremists captured more than 500 women and children from the Nigerian town of Damasak, killing at least 50 straight away, according to Tuesday reports.
Last April, nearly 300 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram in the town of Chibok, which caused international outrage and attracted global attention to the group’s six-year insurgency.
Boko Haram recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militant group.
Obama halts Israeli transfer of weapons to Nigerian Christians to defend themselves from Boko Haram Muslim Terrorists because ‘..it conflicts with US Policy Interests..’
by, Michael Wilner | JPost
WASHINGTON – The United States suspended the resale of US-made military helicopters by Israel to the Nigerian government for its fight against Boko Haram last summer, according to Abuja.
The transfer of such aircraft requires a review to determine its “consistency with US policy interests,” Obama administration officials told The Jerusalem Post.
Reviews of this kind take place in the case of “any requests for one country to transfer US-origin defense items to another country,” said Ned Price, White House Assistant Press Secretary and Director for Strategic Communications.
According to a report initially published in a local Nigerian daily, ThisDay, Nigerian government officials believe a large sale was halted because of “unfounded allegations of human rights violations by our troops,” one such official is quoted saying. The Nigerian official is not named in the report.
“This,” he continued, “after the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had initially approved the purchase.”
US officials tell the Post such transfers must be consistent with a policy directive revised by President Barack Obama in January, which outlines the criteria for conventional-weapons sales.
The policy requires that US transfers, including of Boeing aircraft, take into account “the risk that significant change in the political or security situation of the recipient country could lead to inappropriate end-use” of the weapons.
While the Nigerian report suggests the country sought the purchase of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters, Israel predominantly uses Sikorsky CH-53 aircraft for missions involving heavylift transport. Both Boeing and Sikorsky are American companies.
Nigeria receives extensive training and assistance from the US government in its battle against Boko Haram, an extremist group affiliated with al-Qaida that Obama has repeatedly labeled an enemy of the United States.
“The ideology of ISIL [Islamic State] or al-Qaida or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed and confronted and refuted in the light of day,” Obama said in his address to the UN General Assembly.
Boko Haram gained notoriety around the world after its militants kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in April.
The US sent military personnel to help find the girls.
US assistance to Nigeria is intended to “professionalize the response of its security forces, including to respond to crime and terrorism,” and “emphasizes human rights, civilian protection and adherence to rule of law at all levels,” American officials said.
In August, Amnesty International said it had gathered video footage, images and testimonies that “implicate the Nigerian military in war crimes.” The Nigerian government has denied the allegations.
Israeli laws concerning the export of arms are less restrictive than those in the United States. Israel, however, is a member of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and, in 2009, reported to the body that Israel, in practice, refrains from transfers “where there is imminent risk that arms might be internally diverted, illegally proliferated and re-transferred, or fall into the hands of terrorists or entities and states that support or sponsor them.”
Nigeria’s largest arms purchase ever reported was from Israel, in 2007, in a deal with Aeronautics systems worth $260 million. That company is Israeli, however, not American.
According to the US policy directive, formally called the US Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, the attempted sale by the Netanyahu government also might affect future US arms sales to Israel.
One criteria for the transfer of US arms is the likelihood that the recipient country would “retransfer the arms to those who would commit human rights abuses or serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
Sixteen nations operate the Chinook helicopter, none of which are in sub-Saharan Africa. A single Chinook costs roughly $40 million to produce.
“The United States remains committed to helping the Nigerian government combat the terrorist organization Boko Haram,” a State Department official said. “We are engaging with the Nigerian government at all levels to identify areas of counterterrorism cooperation.”
An article in The New York Times last week claims to have verified Washington’s veto of the sale, but no sourcing is identified.
“The kind of question that we have to ask is, let’s say we give certain kinds of equipment to the Nigerian military that is then used in a way that affects the human situation,” US ambassador to Nigeria James F. Entwistle told reporters in October, according to the Times.
“If I approve that, I’m responsible for that. We take that responsibility very seriously.”
Israeli government officials declined to comment on this report.
A Christian woman reacts to the Islamic slaughter in Nigeria.
by, J. Schuyler Montague | sharia unveiled
While the world focuses on ISIS in Syria and Iraq, al-Qaeda (AQAP) in Yemen and the recent Islamic terrorist attacks in France, massacre after massacre is occurring in Nigeria..and the world remains silent. The worldwide plague of Islam is pulling our attention in so many directions, simultaneously..that we are neglecting to see the slaughter of innocence in Nigeria and surrounding nations. A week ago, more than 2,000 women, children and elderly people were slaughtered in ONE attack by Boko Haram Muslim terrorists in Nigeria, and barely did it make a blip on major media outlets. Our focus was on France and the 17 murdered in Paris. Currently, Boko Haram Muslim terrorists control 6 times more territory than ISIS. This is an enormous land mass and it is growing everyday. Unless something is done and very soon, we could potentially lose an entire continent to an Islamic terrorist organization within the next 12-15 months.
It is very important that we begin to shift the world’s focus to Nigeria and keep it there until Boko Haram is destroyed, freedom to Nigeria is restored and the stolen girls, land and assets have been reclaimed by the rightful owners. I have been covering Boko Haram and their Islamic conquest of the African continent for 3 years now. Although “we” need to make a concerted effort to end this tragedy and end it NOW! I am going to devote more time and focus on Nigeria but I need your help…
If you share no other articles from this site and our affiliated social media outlets, PLEASE SHARE the articles about Nigeria and Boko Haram. Please share them anywhere and everywhere you can. Email them to major media outlets, post the links on their websites. Email them to politicians and demand their attention. Remember, “liking” an article does nothing.. “commenting” on an article does nothing.. but “sharing” an article increases the visibility by an order of magnitude. And when ‘you’ share an article..please ask those people you have shared it with, to share it as well.
Additionally, we would like to appeal to our fellow website owners, editors and administrators;
PLEASE JOIN US and FOCUS ON NIGERIA!
j.s.m. @ sharia unveiled
Je Suis Baga
It’s as if the World Has Forgotten Us…
by, Debora Patta | CBS News
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — #BringBackOurGirls. Remember that hashtag? The social media campaign that accompanied global outrage over Boko Haram’s abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls on the eve of their final exams went viral almost instantly.
That was nine months ago. The girls have not been seen since and it appears the world is suffering from what one commentator called “collective amnesia.”
But for the people of Nigeria, there is no such thing as the luxury of forgetting and moving on. Hardly a week goes recently without word of another Boko Haram atrocity.
Much of the violence happens in the northern states of Borno and Yobe — the heart of Boko Haram’s stronghold, where they have been conducting a violent ISIS-style land-grab. It’s estimated they now control territory about half the size of Iceland — 20,000 square miles — with a population of 1.7 million people.
Boko Haram fighters are alarmingly well-equipped and the Nigerian military frequently complains that it is outmanned and outgunned by the group; so much so that at the end of 2014, more than 50 Nigerian soldiers were sentenced to death for mutiny after refusing to fight the militants.
Their tactics violate every single international human right. They raid towns and villages, killing with impunity. Children are frequently abducted and teenage girls taken as the spoils of war, forced to become the sex slaves for Boko Haram militants.
In the past week alone Boko Haram has unleashed bloodshed on almost a daily basis. The most devastating attack by the group to date was the massacre of civilians in the towns of Baga and Doro Baga, where eyewitnesses describe stepping over bodies too numerous to count as they fled into the bush.
Video courtesy of:BBC News
The death toll in the assault is impossible to verify as the area is remote and too dangerous to access, but an eyewitness account of “bodies strewn in bushes” should be enough to convey the extent of the horror.
And just when it seemed hard to imagine that Boko Haram’s brutality could get no worse, it did. Children are now being used to carry out their bloody deeds.
The new face of war; a child with explosives strapped to her young body. This past weekend saw two separate child suicide bombings, leaving more than 20 people dead. It’s unlikely the girls even knew what the purpose of the deadly vest they were given was. One of them was no more than ten years old.
Sources in the region tell CBS News the use of children could signify desperation on the part of Boko Haram.
“Their extreme brutality and the fact that they kill Christians and Muslims has made it difficult for them to recruit,” said a terrorism analyst who has worked extensively in West Africa. “They lack ideological appeal.”
But children are in ready supply in Boko Haram camps. It’s believed the bombers from the attacks last weekend could have been the orphaned children of Boko Haram fighters killed in the conflict, or schoolgirls kidnapped as war booty.
“This story is almost too painful to contemplate,” said one diplomatic source in Nigeria. “A child suicide bomber, this is a special brand of evil.”
Michael Yohana co-ordinates an organization that helps re-home the refugees who have fled Nigeria’s violence. A gentle giant with a beaming smile, he keeps me regularly updated on the plight and numbers of displaced people.
You would usually be hard pressed to hear him speak in harsh tones — but over the past months he has grown increasingly frustrated.
“It’s as if the world has forgotten us,” he told me. “What is the world doing? Have they also been hypnotized or bought over? Why no response whatsoever? Why?”
As the bodies pile up, many Nigerians cannot escape the feeling that the world is indifferent to their suffering, but worse still is their own government’s detachment from the situation and seeming inability to rein in Boko Haram.
It’s a presidential election year in Nigeria, and in the run-up to the poll on Valentine’s Day next month, expect the violence to only increase.
– – –
Jihadist-Controlled Territory: How do Boko Haram, Isis and the Afghan Taliban Compare?
by, Shane Croucher | International Business Times (IBT)
The rapid expansion of territory seized by jihadist groups is one of the worst geo-political developments in recent years.
Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Islamic State (Isis) in Syria and Iraq and the Afghan Taliban have all violently brought land under their control.
Though not the only Islamic extremists to control territory in the world – others include al-Shabab in Somalia and al-Qaeda in Yemen – these three groups have either established, or have realistic aspirations of establishing, a functioning state to consolidate their power and permanence.
Islamic State burst out of the Syrian civil war in late 2013, where its jihadists had been fighting the government, and took most by complete surprise.
After seizing control of some Syrian areas from forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad – including the city of Raqqa, now the capital of the Islamic State – it went on to win territory in Iraq too.
And it bolstered its military capabilities by taking US-made weapons from the fleeing Iraqi Army, including pieces of heavy artillery. It captured Mosul, Iraq’s second city, as radical Islamists from across the world, including Western countries, travelled to fight under the banner of the Islamic State.
After its rapid land-grab, the self-declared Islamic State – a brutal caliphate headed up by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi which adheres to an ultra-strict form of Sharia law – set about not only defending it, but maintaining institutions such as a justice system and creating an economy.
It has primarily funded itself throughdonations from wealthy sympathisers in the Middle East and selling oil produced within its borders at infrastructure it stole from Syria and Iraq, but also raises money from assets it has robbed, extortion and kidnap ransoms.
Islamic State militants have captured journalists, aid workers and foreign fighters, often demanding ransoms for their safe return. Many have been executed, sometimes by beheading.
The exact square mileage under the Islamic State’s control is not known. Estimates vary from 12,000 (about the size of Belgium) to as much as 81,000 (about the size of Belarus). As it wins and loses territory in battles with Iraqi and Syrian forces, the figure is constantly changing.
There are thought to be eight million people living under the oppression of the Islamic State.
Its central goal is to create a global caliphate. While this is obviously never going to happen, it may – if it can maintain a supply of weapons, money and fighters – take more ground in the Middle East and consolidate the state further, unless a serious military challenge is made.
Boko Haram, an armed radical Islamist group whose name translates as “Western education is forbidden”, is murdering and pillaging its way across Nigeria. Its reach also touches border countries, such as Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
In the latest deadly assault, over 2,000 innocent Nigerians were slaughtered – including pregnant women and children – as Boko Haram razed entire towns to the ground.
The group, thought to be led by Abubakar Shekau, is also known for kidnapping schoolgirls and forcing them into marriage with their fighters, as well as using child soldiers.
One of the most sickening atrocities carried out by Boko Haram is strapping bombs to a 10-year-old girl and sending her into a crowded marketplace before murdering her and 16 others by detonating her.
Founded in 2002, it is only in recent years that Boko Haram has managed to gain ground. As a result, it has become a proscribed terror group in the UK and US.
According to a June 2014 briefing by the Henry Jackson Society, Boko Haram has as many as 300 training camps in Nigeria and neighbouring countries.
It pays its soldiers for joining and then fighting, with bonus payments for acquiring weapons during battle.
Thirteen years on from its inception, it has taken control of around 20,000 square miles of territory and displaced around 300,000 people in the process.
That is bigger than Slovakia, to put it into perspective, and home to more than 1.7 million people now living under the tyranny of Boko Haram, which adopts an extreme Sunni interpretation of Islam.
And it makes its money through illicit means. It robs the places it raids; uses the black market to sell drugs and poaching spoils; extorts people and kidnaps for ransom; and receives donationsfrom al-Qaeda and supportive Islamists (including $3m from Osama bin Laden himself in the early 2000s).
It’s not known exactly how many people are fighting with Boko Haram. The US State Department said estimates vary from a few hundred to a few thousand.
The Nigerian army cannot contain Boko Haram. As the extremists gain ground, the concern is that they will pause to formalise themselves – it is currently a loose band with no clear hierarchy – and start developing a semi-functioning state with institutions. Some are already calling it the “Islamic State of Africa”.
Despite losing most of its territory when it was unseated from rule by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Afghan Taliban has maintained a fierce guerrilla opposition.
Now full military operations by the US and UK have officially ended in Afghanistan, though a few thousand troops remain to support the Afghan army, it’s feared the Taliban will simply reclaim control through the use of force much of its former territory.
Islamic fundamentalists, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was attacked by the US in the aftermath of 9/11 because it harboured al-Qaeda’s terror training camps inside the country and had close links with the organisation, headed by Osama bin Laden who masterminded the 2001 attack on America.
Despite ousting the Taliban, coalition forces far from defeated them. The Taliban still controls some Afghan territory and continues to fight.
It has some support from Afghan villagers, who have suffered under the US occupation and are religiously conservative, but it also silences any dissent through intimidation and violence.
It’s not known exactly how much of Afghanistan is under Taliban influence in square mile terms. But there are troubling reports of battles that have seen it recapture certain towns and villages in rural areas.
Money and arms are thought to still be flowing in from wealthy sympathisers, probably in Gulf states, while the Taliban also makes cash from drugs by taking control of poppy fields.
And there are doubts about the effectiveness of the Nato-trained Afghan national security forces, who face a lonely battle to maintain stability in the country by fighting back the Taliban.
“In some outlying districts, Afghan forces and local insurgents have reached informal ceasefires that effectively cede a degree of authority to the Taliban,” according to a worrying briefing by theCouncil on Foreign Relations.
Though the UN estimates that the Taliban officially controls just four districts of 373 in Afghanistan, it sits on the edge of others and is ready to pounce: 40% of districts have a “raised” or “high” threat level of Taliban attack.
So while the Taliban hasn’t been able to re-establish its control of the whole state, it effectively maintains a sporadic governance of some local areas across Afghanistan.
With the might of the US and UK militaries now largely gone from Afghanistan, the extremists could eventually reassert themselves in Kabul unless a conclusive endgame is reached before this scenario: either by wiping out the Taliban militarily or reaching a political settlement.
Even the Pentagon expects the Taliban to expand between 2015 and 2018 as it tries to take back control of the country.
– – –
When Normal Is Deadly: How Boko Haram Made Us Ok With Slaughter
How we live in a world where a terror attack in Paris seems “unthinkable” yet a massacre in Nigeria seems somehow normal.
by, Joe Randazzo | The Daily Beast
In the first few days after Boko Haram’s recent attack in the remote village of Baga, most of the news coverage I saw about it concerned the lack of news. Why, the media wondered, was the media not more interested? As many as 2,000 people had been slaughtered, a figure that, if true, would dwarf the number killed in Paris around the same time.
A big reason the Boko Haram killings haven’t gotten much press is that there isn’t much press there. Baga is extremely remote, with little or no cell service, and it is, by all accounts, a war zone. Nor is the Nigerian government cooperative, or forthcoming, about what’s going on: The military claims no more than 150 people were killed, including militants. President Goodluck Jonathan, who is in the midst of a reelection campaign, hasn’t even publicly commented on the attack.
But even if the western media had been more present, I’m not convinced the western audience would have been more interested. Because, at bottom, there’s a pervading sense here that what happened in Paris was decidedly not normal, while what happened in Nigeria decidedly was.
And normal, unfortunately, doesn’t make the news.
The average western consumer is operating with a broad set of assumptions that form the backdrop for their worldview. This backdrop, which is supposed to remain fixed, unchanged, includes beautiful images of a sophisticated, peaceful Paris, right alongside ugly images of a chaotic Nigeria. When it is disturbed, however—when what is normal is disrupted, especially violently—well, then, we have news.
It is not considered normal for a bunch of French cartoonists to be shot up in their own offices. Millions of us can relate much more easily to this sort of horror than yet another attack on yet another village in yet another African country. We can imagine it. We can fear it. We call these recognizable kinds of tragedyunthinkable, while what happened in Nigeria is not even worth thinking about.
But surely this is abnormal, even by Boko Haram standards: perhaps thousands dead, villages burned to the ground, little girls used as suicide bombers? The insidious thing about normal, though, is that it makes room for the abnormal. School shootings were once abnormal in the U.S. Now they’re almost banal. The same goes for atrocities of ever-escalating brazenness and horror in Islamic lands. The fact that it defies our comprehension is, simply, normal.
The result of this kind of thinking is something worse than apathy; it’s acceptance. Normal allowed us to accept slavery, homophobia, misogyny, racism in all its forms, illegal foreign invasions, unfettered corporate greed, environmental destruction. Normal is not equal and it is not fair. Normal is deadly.
This is why terrorism is so effective. It shatters our sense of normalcy in a very dramatic way, makes us recoil at the very idea of ever having to give it up—even if holding onto it comes at a terrible cost to others. What is happening in Nigeria, though, does not seem to be about making a political statement. Like ISIS, Boko Haram’s apparent goal is to establish a caliphate, and the murders and razing of towns are not just to designed to terrorize, but to seize territory for their own brutal sovereignty—territory that is spilling over into neighboring Chad.
But none of us, from the casual news observer to the president of the United States, seems willing to allow the reality of what Boko Haram is doing to disrupt our daily lives. If enough of us decided, however, that we’d rather live in a just world than a normal one, acceptance would turn to outrage, and the west would start putting pressure on the Nigerian government to do more.
And by the way, those 219 kidnapped Nigerian girls have still not been located. In fact, Boko Haram has abducted hundreds more children since the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls overtook social media last spring. But I suppose that’s normal now, too.
by, Terrence McCoy | The Washington Post | h/t Glen Roberts @ Trop
For months, fear of Boko Haram has gripped Nigeria’s northeast. The goals of the Islamic militant group, which captured international attention through a relentless campaign of brutality, have long been about killing. But last summer, something changed. Its aspirations became as much about territory as terrorism. It no longer wants to just cripple a government. It wants to become one.
In August, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau announced the establishment of his “Islamic Caliphate,” quickly taking over every corner of Borno State in northeast Nigeria. But one town called Baga, populated by thousands of Nigerians along the western shores of Lake Chad, held out. Anchored by a multinational military base manned by troops from Niger to Chad, it was the last place in Borno under the national government’s control. Over the weekend, that changed.
Gunshots punctured the early morning quiet. “They came through the north, the west and from the southern part of the town because the eastern part is only water,” one resident told the BBC. “So, when we [went] toward the western part, we saw heavily armed Boko Haram men coming toward us.” At the sight of the incoming insurgents, the soldiers put up a scant fight before abandoning their base and leaving residents defenseless.
“There is definitely something wrong that makes our military abandon their posts each time there is an attack from Boko Haram,” local state senator Maina Maaji Lawan told the BBC, adding that residents’ frustration knew “no bounds.” Frustration, however, soon gave way to something substantially worse.
It’s not clear how many people were killed in Baga. Early reports on Thursday said hundreds. Others said it was many more. Musa Alhaji Bukar, a senior government official in Borno, said Boko Haram killed more than 2,000 people which, if true, would mean the group equaled its total kill count last year in one attack. More were said to have drowned in Lake Chad while attempting to swim to a nearby island. Some estimatessaid more than 20,000 people are now displaced as a result of what one reporter called Boko Haram’s “most horrific act of terrorism yet.”
Baga, local government officials say, is simply no more. It’s “virtually non-existent,” Bukar told the BBC. One man who escaped with his family toldAgence France-Presse he had to navigate through “many dead bodies on the ground” and that the “whole town was on fire.” Another man told Reuters he “escaped with my family in the car after seeing how Boko Haram was killing people … I saw bodies in the street. Children and women, some were crying for help.” He added: Bodies were “littered on the streets and surrounding bushes.”
“The indiscriminate killing went on and on and on,” Lawan told BBC.
It’s hard to find contemporary precedent for the delight Boko Haram takes in killing. Even the Islamic State, which has killed thousands and purposely targets minorities, doesn’t seem to be as wanton in its acts of carnage. It appears everyone — Muslim, Christian, Cameroonian, Nigerian — is a target for Boko Haram.
A video recently emerged, Genocide Watch reported, that shows gunmen shooting civilians as they lay face down in a dormitory. A local leader explains they are “infidels,” even though he admits they’re Muslim: “We have made sure the floor of this hall is turned red with blood, and this is how it is going to be in all future attacks and arrests of infidels. From now on, killing, slaughtering, destruction and bombings will be our religious duty anywhere we invade.”
Is there any stopping it? For the time being, it appears not. The administration of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and his military, beset by corruption and ill-equipped, have been unable to match both Boko Haram’s firepower, discipline and fundraising. And now, with Boko Haram’s campaign to control northeast Nigeria complete, analysts said its territorial ambitions have outgrown Nigeria’s porous borders.
Cameroon dispatched troops to its northern border to meet the assault, but its military has been taxed by ceaseless Boko Haram attacks, reported Stratfor Global Intelligence. On Dec. 28, fighters spilled across a dry river bed into Cameroon. “This may have been an attempt by Boko Haram to establish control over a significant portion of Cameroon’s far north region, where the group has long been active and recruited fighters,” the think tank said. Boko Haram seized one town and simultaneously attacked five more.
Residents fled — but where to? According to AFP, Boko Haram’s recent attack means the group controls all of Borno’s borders with Niger, Chad and Cameroon. Meanwhile, hundreds who survived the swim out to that island in Lake Chad are said to be trapped. “They told me,” Abubakar Gamandi, a Baga native, told AFP, “that some of them are dying from lack of food, cold and malaria on the mosquito-infested island.”
by, LIGNET | Voice of America
The Nigerian terrorists who kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls and sparked a worldwide demand for their release have agreed to free their captives, Nigerian officials said Friday. The shadowy Boko Haram terrorist group “assured [us] that the schoolgirls and all other people in their captivity are alive and well,” Mike Omeri, a government spokesman, told reporters. “Already the terrorists have announced a cease-fire in furtherance of their desire for peace. In this regard, the government of Nigeria has, in a similar vein, declared a cease-fire.”
However, word of the cease-fire could take days to reach Boko Haram fighters, which prowl in separate gangs on innocent villagers throughout northern Nigeria. Some are suspected of seeking safe havens in neighboring nations in West Africa. Boko Haram, which endorse medieval Islamic law and renounces education for women, kidnapped 276 girls on April 15. The world reacted with outrage, as the kidnapping sparked a global demand for their release and a social media campaign, #BringBackOurGirls. First Lady Michelle Obama was among those who held up the hashtag signs on Twitter.
The Nigerian government says the militant group Boko Haram has agreed to a cease-fire and the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the militants in April.
Nigeria’s highest-ranking military official, General Alex Badeh, announced the cease-fire agreement Friday. He ordered all of the country’s military chiefs to abide by the deal.
The government expects the cease-fire agreement now in effect to lead to the release of the schoolgirls.
There has been no public comment from Boko Haram that any such deal has been reached.
Top Nigerian presidential aide Hassan Tukur tells VOA’s Hausa service that the militants have agreed in principle to free the schoolgirls. He said negotiations in the past had not yet “yielded any positive results,” but he is cautiously optimistic this time.
Boko Haram has terrorized Nigeria for the last five years as it tries to turn northern Nigeria into a conservative Islamic state. Bombings, gun attacks and other acts of violence have killed thousands of civilians and police.
The militants outraged the world when they stormed a school in the remote northeastern village of Chibok, kidnapping about 270 girls. Fifty-seven managed to escape, but more than 200 are still being held.
The cease-fire talks were held in Chad and involved Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, and senior officials from Cameroon. It marks a possible end to the five-year insurgency in which several thousand Nigerians have been killed.
Nigerian leader criticized
Jonathan has been criticized at home and abroad for Nigerian troops’ inability to quell violence by the militants, seen as the biggest security threat to Africa’s top economy and leading energy producer.
Criticism intensified in mid-April, when dozens of Boko Haram fighters stormed a secondary school in the remote northeastern village of Chibok, kidnapping around 270 girls. Fifty-seven managed to escape.
In a video, the Boko Haram leader known as Abubakar Shekau threatened to sell the other girls as slave brides, vowing they would not be released until militant prisoners were freed from jail.
Boko Haram has said it is fighting to establish an Islamic state in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria.
The group has launched scores of attacks in the past five years, targeting markets, bus stations, government facilities, churches and even mosques. Militants recently took over some towns in the northeast for what Shekau said in another video would be an Islamic caliphate.
The Nigerian military says that Shekau was actually an impostor and that the real Shekau was killed several years ago. It says the impostor was killed last month during a battle in the town of Konduga.