How Boko Haram Got Teenage Girls for Suicide Missions; the Motivation for the Bombers
By Daily Trust
Findings have shown that some of the girls that blew themselves up in Kano State may be among the hundreds of women kidnapped in parts of Borno and Yobe States since the Boko Haram insurgency escalated in the last two years. Within this period, hundreds of girls and women have been abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents but the issue of kidnappings in the ravaged North-East part of Nigeria only drew national and international attention on April 14 when 276 girls were taken away from Government Girls Secondary Chibok in Borno State.
It was also gathered that the deployment of girls, aged between 16 and 19 and even those below the age of 10 may be another strategy to attract international outrage so that the Federal Government could be compelled to release top commanders of the sect in various detention facilities, a credible source said.
A legal practitioner, Barrister Abubakar Sadiq said the use of girls in the suicide missions in Kano unveils a new trend by the terrorists to press home their demands.
“The fact is, besides using the girls as human shield in their various camps, the terrorists are really disturbed that they could not forcefully rescue some of their commanders. My fear is that if something urgent is not done, they would gradually use all the girls in their hands for suicide missions,” he said.
Apart from the Chibok girls, dozens of women have been whisked away by the Boko Haram and are yet to return. Many have been reportedly ferried across the Nigerian borders, while many others have been fully indoctrinated and are doing the biddings of the insurgents, including serving as couriers for movement of arms and ammunitions, as well as doing domestic chores like cooking and washing in various camps and enclaves.
A security source told our correspondent that most of the girls used recently for the suicide mission were not aware that they would die.
“I can assure you that most of the kidnapped girls were not aware of what has been happening…they have no access to radio, TV or cell phones. Those sent on suicide missions were not told that they would be deployed for such acts and did not have access to the remote control being used to detonate the explosives,” he said.
Security sources hinted that it is these girls and dozens of others, who are marked for the purpose of suicide bombings in many places.
The source revealed that: “You may not know that attempts to use some of these girls for suicide missions in places like Maiduguri, Damaturu, Potiskum, Bauchi, Kaduna, Katsina, Jos and other places were averted. The terrorists could not carry out the nefarious act because of many factors, including security measures put in place during the Sallah season.”
According to him, “What happened in Kano could be described as isolated incidences,” he said.
In Maiduguri, for instance, two days after the Muslim fasting ended, the Youth Vigilantes, also known as Civilian JTF, alerted that some 40 suspected Boko Haram members, including women, had been sneaked into the state capital for the purpose of killing and destroying places with explosives.
“Yes, the insurgents had made attempts to wreak havoc, but God did not allow them to execute the evil intention,” Muhammed Gava, a senior official of the vigilantes, said.
Part of the initiative of security forces in Maiduguri was the banning of vehicular movements throughout the Sallah period, a development that forced residents to trek.
Even after the Sallah festivities, the Borno State police command issued a statement advising residents to be wary of unsuspecting women that cover their bodies with hijab (cloth worn by ladies).
A statement signed by the Command’s spokesman, Gideon Jibrin, a DSP said, “The command…cautions residents to be wary of strange females wearing hijabs and moving around crowded places as some of them may be hiding explosives in their undergarments with the intention of causing harm to unsuspecting residents. Residents who sight such persons should immediately alert the relevant security operatives for proper action,” the statement said.
For now, even innocent Muslim women who are used to wearing the Hijab before going out of their houses are gradually setting them aside for other light veils, a development which some clerics believe is a serious setback for Islam.
What is the motivation for Nigeria’s female suicide bombers?
With the unleashing of an arsenal of female suicide bombers on Kano last week, the general public has been thrown into fear about its safety, more than ever before – since the beginning of the Boko Haram insurgency five years ago.
More worrisome, is the evidence from the successful attacks in Kano that the group has mastered the technology of “miniaturizing” the explosives, such that they could be concealed under clothing. “This was not the case with previous suicide attacks in the country, where bomb-laden vehicles are driven into targets by suicide bombers,” an expert said.
“Another danger that is evident in this type of attack is the indiscriminate use of the female suicide bombers preponderantly against unsuspecting civilian targets. A lady does not elicit suspicion naturally as an average man would do. So by using young girls, they are further relaxing the alertness barriers in people, so that when these bomb-carriers melt into crowd, they are least expected to be the source of any threat. It is an innocent way of delivering a lethal weapon,” the expert added.
The security expert blamed Nigeria’s “inability” to clinically investigate the first female suicide attack in the North-East, which, he said, would have helped nip the use of female suicide bombers in the bud.
Already, the renewed attacks in Kano have rekindled issues around the abduction of Chibok girls, with many Nigerians coming to the conclusion that the sect was indoctrinating the captives and deploying them for suicide missions.
A senior military officer who is working with security teams on the activities of Boko Haram, told the Sunday Trust that the rumours may, in fact, have an iota of truth, saying even if the teenage attackers were not among the abducted Chibok girls, they could be other girls that the sect had kidnapped earlier in Yobe or other parts of the North-East.
The military officer said the girls could be coerced into carrying the bombs on their bodies after being threatened with death or other punishments like “threat of abduction of their family members.
Investigations have shown that some of the group’s fighters are sent for attacks under duress, as the punishment for refusing to obey is death. They have seen how their fellows who attempted to escape were slaughtered,” he said.
Another theory that security agents have come up with is the possibility of the girls being controlled through diabolical means to carryout the attack. “It is also not impossible for them to use certain means to control the minds of the girls and order them to carry out certain actions which ordinarily they would not do,” he explained.
There is also the tendency that they were deceived or lied to, he pointed out, explaining that, “a girl who has been kidnapped for months will naturally be home sick, so when she is strapped with a bag containing explosives and told to go to the police to take her home, she may blindly believe, thinking she is carrying her personal effect.
“It could be that she was asked to join a queue and buy something. She may not know what she was carrying and she may not be the one to detonate it, as the person who pulls the trigger is always nearby.
“We have seen what happened during the suicide bombing of Pakistan’s naval base. The man who was carrying the explosives tried to send people away from himself before it went up. Apparently, he was forced to do it,” he said.
Equally, the officer held that some of the girls would have been convinced to execute the mission, especially if they are dependants of dead sect members. “It is possible to brainwash them about avenging the death of their fathers or brothers. They are deaths that are emotional and can make the bereaved susceptible to being pushed to take revenge, especially when such killings are shown to them to have been done unjustly by state actors,” the officer explained.
As the nation and its security agents are engrossed in search for answers and solutions to the new and deadly prowl of female suicide bombers, security experts said the only headway that has been achieved, was the arrest in Funtua of three suspects. “They would help us understand who the girls are, where they are kept and who trained them,” a security officer explained
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