Boko Haram Releases New Video of Kidnapped Nigerian Girls
On Monday, Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group who kidnapped over 200 girls in Nigeria, has released a new, 27-minute long video showing dozens of the kidnapped girls. The girls are taped wearing hijabs and singing, and the video also shows Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, saying that the girls have converted to Islam and that he will release the girls if the Nigerian government releases imprisoned Boko Haram around the country. It isn't clear if Boko Haram's demands will be met, as most governments refuse to negotiate with terrorists, but the new video may give hope to the families of some of the kidnapped girls.
Last week, Michelle Obama brought big attention to the #BringBackOurGirls movement when she joined the social media campaign on Instagram. "Our prayers are with the missing Nigerian girls and their families. It's time to #BringBackOurGirls," she wrote. As the search for the women continues, stars like Anne Hathaway are helping to spread the word. The Oscar winner took to the streets in LA with signs. The hashtag #RealMenDontBuyGirls is also trending, with celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Ashton Kutcher endorsing that movement in pictures. Here are the details you might be curious about.
- On April 15, Boko Haram invaded a girls' school in Chibok, Nigeria, posing as Nigerian soldiers. They took the girls into their trucks and went into a forest. Reports differed on how many girls were abducted, with the government saying 100 and locals saying 200. The total number now is estimated at about 300.
- On April 23, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls began to gain steam in Nigeria. Thanks to social media, it soon spread, introducing the crisis to the rest of the world.
- In total, about 50 girls have managed to escape. Some clung to low-hanging branches while being driven in open trucks.
- On Monday, the leader of Boko Haram took credit for the kidnapping in a video and announced the intention to sell them as brides.
- On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced that the US would help find the girls, saying, "I can only imagine what the parents are going through. So what we've done is, we have offered — and it's been accepted — help from our military and law enforcement officials. We're going to do everything we can to provide assistance to them."
- The US is not the only country pledging support. The UK, China and France have also said they will send military assistance.
- Critics of the Nigerian government argue that it has been slow to react. It took weeks to announce a cash reward for anyone who helps get the girls back safely, and the republic reportedly turned down international support at first. And on Friday, word broke that the government security forces knew about the raid four hours before it happened and failed to act.
- The country's president, Goodluck Jonathan, is hopeful that the concerted effort against the terrorist group will be a turning point for Nigeria, which has the largest economy in Africa. But things are getting worse before they're getting better. More than 300 people were killed in a new terrorist attack carried out by Boko Haram on Wednesday.
- As for whether the girls are likely to return home, retired General Carter Ham, who was in the US African Command until last year, told NPR on Thursday, "I suspect they've been probably dispersed by now. That'll be a difficult challenge." According to him, there are ways to try: "We have surveillance platforms, signals intelligence, and other capabilities that would be helpful." On Friday, six US military advisers arrived in the country to join the rescue efforts.
Source: Instagram user Michelle Obama