Boko Haram Girls Being Used As Suicide Bombers
Kidnapped Boko Haram girls are given a choice: get married or go on a “mission” and most never make it back from the mission.
The outlawed insurgent group, Boko Haram, has changed its modus operandi in carrying out attacks: the group is now strapping bombs to kidnapped Boko Haram girls, particularly children, and ordering them to move toward their target for the bomb to then be detonated. More than 357 people died from these types of suicide bombers in 2017.
According to a report by UNICEF, 83 children were used to carry out bomb attacks in 2017 alone, about four times higher than the figure reported in 2016. Of these children, 80% were girls 15 years old and younger.
Ever since Boko Haram kidnapped the 276 Chibok school girls, its reign of terror in the northeastern region of Nigeria has continued to be felt up to this day. The militia have continued to mercilessly raid villages, butchering innocent civilians. During these attacks, they kidnap children and take them to forest hideouts. The children are also kidnapped in towns and market centers by militia dressed in civilian clothing.
After abduction, the children are taken through a rigorous radicalization process. In an interview with BBC, Falmata, a 13-year-old girl who escaped from Boko Haram, said they forced all hostages to recite Quran verses for long hours. Falmata had been kidnapped and taken to the forest hideout only to find dozens of other children in a large camp. Here, they were radicalized and later presented with two options: get married or go on a mission.
Boko Haram Girls Dressed to Kill
Girls choosing to go on a mission were dressed as if headed for a wedding or other ornate event.
“My friend Hauwa had agreed to get married as a way of trying to stay alive. She wanted to find a way to escape. Other girls hated her for getting married and so did I at first. But then I understood her and felt sorry for her because she was unhappy,” Falmata says. “All I was thinking was, ‘is it for marriage or what?’ But you can’t ask why you’re getting this done. Instead friends just console you and tell you to be patient.”
After the Boko Haram girls have been appropriately dressed, soldiers would come and strap bombs onto their waists and give them instructions for the mission. With persuasive promises of paradise after death, the girls are deployed.
While Falmata was lucky to escape and have the bomb unstrapped from her by some farmers, most of her fellow Boko Haram girls ended up married to the militia or killed by the bombs.
A report released in 2017 by the Combating Terrorism Center, a U.S. terrorism research institute, said that the militia has resulted to using children for several reasons:
- They are easier to convince into suicide bombing than adults
- They are not easy to detect
- They are cost efficient to care for while in camps
- At security checks, females, especially young girls, are not frisked as often as their male counterparts
Though the Boko Haram are slowly losing steam, security forces should act sooner than later to curb this horrific radicalist trend.