- Apr 7, 2013
The Nigerian mothers wailing and fathers beating their breasts sure had me fooled (NOT!):
U.S. joins hunt for missing Nigerian schoolgirls
Drones, manned spy planes, and intelligence agents from the U.S., the U.K., and other Western nations were deployed to Nigeria this week in a bid to help locate about 275 Nigerian schoolgirls being held hostage by Islamist militants Boko Haram in a remote region of the country. A video released Monday showed around 100 of the girls wearing full veils and praying; the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, claimed they had converted to Islam and threatened to sell them into slavery unless the government released 4,000 Boko Haram prisoners. “There is a market for selling humans,” he said. “Allah says I should sell.” Nigerian government officials said they had opened “talks” with Boko Haram leaders. Throughout the world, there was growing outrage over the kidnapping, which took place a month ago at a boarding school in Nigeria’s northeast state of Borno. A Twitter campaign–#BringBackOurGirls–went viral.
Boko Haram, which translates as “Western education is forbidden,” was set up to establish an Islamic state governed by sharia law. But when Shekau took the reins in 2009, he made it much more radical; his men have killed an estimated 7,000 people in the past two years alone, including Muslims he deems too secular. “He seems to want to distinguish himself by the depth of his brutality,” said former U.S. counterterrorism chief Daniel Benjamin. “It is a big part of his calling card.”
What the editorials said
This kidnapping has brought Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan under an “international spotlight,” said The Economist—and he doesn’t look good. For several years, Jonathan “has publicly shrugged off the deaths of thousands of people” at the hands of Boko Haram, saying there is little he can do about such fanatics. Two weeks passed before he even commented on the girls’ kidnapping. Nigeria’s army clearly isn’t up to the task of rescuing the girls, either: It was reportedly warned of the kidnapping four hours in advance, and has a reputation for incompetence and brutality.
With each day that passes, the job of finding these poor girls “gets more complicated,” said the New York Post. Intelligence reports suggest many of them have been separated into smaller groups and are being hidden in the caves of the Gwoza mountains and the dense Sambisa forest. But it’s imperative that the U.S. doesn’t dismiss this as “merely a local problem.” In recent years, terrorists have struck all over Africa, from a gas plant in Algeria to a shopping mall in Kenya. “Any Islamist war on modernity will sooner or later target America.”