Updated Monday, May 12 at 11:20 a.m: In Nigeria, Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Boko Haram group, released a new video where he is reported saying that the 276 kidnapped school girls will continue to held captive until imprisoned members of his militant group are released.  In the new video, obtained byFrench news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP), some 100+ school girls believed to be part of the group that were kidnapped by Boko Haram a month ago, are seen wearing the full-length hijab and reciting the Qu’ran.  In the video, Shekau is also heard saying that “These girls, these girls you occupy yourselves with… we have indeed liberated them. These girls have become Muslims.”

 

Due to the attention and pressure that started with a simple hashtag “#bringbackourgirls,” world pressure on Nigeria is mounting over the slow reaction and failure to rescue hundreds of schoolgirls who have been kidnapped by the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram.

 

Last Tuesday, according to USA Today, “President Obama called the abductions ‘outrageous’ and ‘heartbreaking” and said Nigeria has agreed to accept U.S. law enforcement and military assistance.”

 

What else is being done? How and why did this even happen? In order to answer that, we must take a look at the whole picture.

 

Map of Nigeria (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov)

In the year 1960, Nigeria, an oil-rich country in west Africa, declared independence from Britain rule. Lack of government services, like roads, security, electricity, water, health, and education are absent for many, especially in the north. Government corruption, police impunity, and other regional conflicts continue to mount, which in turn undermines reform efforts.

 

It is with these conditions that Boko Haram thrives. Boko Haram — roughly translated to mean “western education is forbidden” — is a violent militant group that has used suicide bombings, burning villages, as well as kidnapping to try and create an Islamic state by force. Through their ruthless violence, they have killed 4,000 people and displaced 500,000 more.

 

The group Boko Haram wants an Islamic state in the north that adheres to Sharia law, or the law of Islam, derived from the Quran through the actions and teachings of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. The extremist group has denounced the Nigerian government’s “false Muslims” and seeks to eradicate the existing government.

 

Boko Haram (http://www.presstv.ir)

Although most of the history of the Boko Haram is still disputed, it is known that the group was formed by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002 with alleged support from a handful of politicians. Mohammed Yusuf mentored the current leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau.

 

Police have arrested and detained Yusuf multiple times, but influential politicians have intervened and had him released. Yusuf reportedly had financial help from Salafi extremists. Yusuf gained most of his popularity by calling out the government on their corruption and failures as well as aiding unemployed youth.

 

In 2009, an all-out war occurred between Nigerian police and Boko Haram. The Nigerian police managed to arrest, detain, and execute Yusuf. In 2010, the group came out from underground to retaliate against the campaign on them the previous year.

 

Issouf Sanogo/AFP (buzzfeed.com)

In 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency and with help from local groups and the military, was able to push Boko Haram out of many towns.

 

The violence did not stop, however, because as soon as the military retreated out of cities and towns, the violence only escalated and intensified to more bombings, attacks, and even kidnappings. On February 25, between 40 and 59 boys were gunned down at a boarding school, some shot while attempting to flee.

 

On April 15, Boko Haram kidnapped over 300 girls from a local school. This was due to their belief that western schools are forbidden and sinful, and an attempt to scare people away from schooling.

 

14 schoolgirls have escaped so far, and explained what happened: “The students heard gunshots from a nearby town. Uniformed men arrived saying they were with the Nigerian military and told the girls to go outside. The men were actually kidnappers.”

 

According to USA Today,

“The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, is taking responsibility for the mass abduction, according to a video obtained by Agence France-Presse. In the video, Shekau described the girls as slaves and said, ‘By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace.’ Unconfirmed reports last week said the girls were being sold as brides for $12 each.”

 

AP Photo / Sunday Alamba (buzzfeed.com)

Parents attempted to rescue their children, hoping they were still nearby, but were stopped when Boko Haram threatened to kill their girls unless their rescue attempts stopped.

 

On April 23, the hashtag “#bringbackourgirls” started grabbing peoples attention, as frustration about the lack of government involvement rose. A week later, women marched in Abuja, demanding assistance from their government to rescue their girls.

 

Since the kidnapping took place, the U.S. government had offered counter-terrorism help and six senators have introduced a resolution calling for the immediate return of the girls. The United States is sending teams that include military and law enforcement to Nigeria to help in the search for the missing girls, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday.

 

As reports slowly start emerging from the tight-lipped Nigerian government, it has been reported that the Nigerian military actually knew about Boko Haram’s attack on the town about four hours before it happened.

 

According to The Guardian, “The human rights group claimed the military was warned an attack was imminent but did not send reinforcements because of a lack of resources and an unwillingness to engage with well-armed insurgents.”

 

As of today, 276 girls are still missing and believed to be in captivity. American and British anti-terrorism personnel arrived last Friday to assist in searching and rescuing the girls.

 

What do you think our government should do? What should the Nigerian government do? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me @kateeb790!