“Human bombs . . . one was a baby strapped to a girl.”
In the West African nation of Nigeria, people have long shuddered at the name Boko Haram – notably the deadliest, cruelest, most despicable, and heinous jihadist terror group in Africa. The governor of the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, Kashim Shettima, estimates that “[t]he Boko Haram insurgency has led to deaths of almost 100,000 persons” with “2,114,000 persons [having] become internally displaced as [of] December of 2016, . . . 537,815 in separate camps” and another “158,201 . . . at official camps.”
The governor of Borno knows a thing or two about Boko Haram. It was in the town of Baga, located in the state of Borno, where the second bloodiest terror attack behind 9/11 occurred – 2,000 people slaughtered and another 35,000 displaced. Boko Haram now controls 70% of the state of Borno which borders Lake Chad and includes their Sambisa Forest hideout. It is here that they have set up a mini-caliphate – an Islamic terrorist home base of sorts – to gather, strategize and launch their vicious and vile jihadist attacks to kill Christians and destroy their churches.
Governor Shettima’s report, cited by a local source, also stated that there is “an official record of 52,311 orphans who are separated and unaccompanied. We have 54,911 widows who have lost their husbands to the insurgency and about 9,012 have returned back to [their] various communities.”
With a population divided between 50% Muslims and 40% Christians – Nigeria is at a tipping point; and Abubakar Shakau – the Boko Haram leader who pledged allegiance to ISIS and who has also pledged to continue to kill Christians through his merciless, monstrous, and murderous variations of violence – smells blood in the water.
We’ve brought attention to these atrocities before – whether it’s executing 59 boys in their sleep and burning down their school, slaying 40 students attending an agricultural training college, kidnapping and enslaving 240 young girls, detonating car bombs and utilizing mob violence aimed at Christians, or using fake preachers to massacre congregants – these and countless other terrorist attacks and senseless sectarian violence have provided a consistent context of dehumanization and indiscriminate death waged upon those that are the most vulnerable.
And children are the most vulnerable. With over 50,000 children orphaned by jihadist violence in northern Nigeria, children are then preyed upon and weaponized as “suicide bombers” by Boko Haram. As UNICEF reports, when children are “used as ‘human bombs’ . . . they are . . . above all, victims, not perpetrators.”
The numbers this year are chilling. According to the UNICEF report, in 2017 alone, “83 children have been used as ‘human bombs’; 55 were girls, most often under 15 years old; 27 were boys, and one was a baby strapped to a girl.” Young girls – as young as eight – are the most common victims, with one in every five Nigerian suicide bombers being a child. In 2014, there were 4 children used as human bombs, in 2015 the number went up to 44, and in 2017 the number has increased four times more than 2016. UNICEF further laments:
The use of children in such attacks has had a further impact of creating suspicion and fear of children who have been released, rescued or escaped from Boko Haram. As a result, many children who have managed to get away from captivity face rejection when they try to reintegrate into their communities, compounding their suffering.
This sadistic increase in child bombers is not only cause for alarm, but it should be a massive call to action.
As we’ve previously asserted, “Boko Haram is the manifestation of evil, driven by a deadly adherence to radical Islamic jihad.” Their goal is to kill Christians, instill Sharia law, and establish a caliphate. We must continue to confront this evil in all of its forms, and it must be recognized for what it is – a deadly, depraved ideology that must be defeated.
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