BOKO HARAM- the 11th plague of Africa

April 14th.  Midnight; 300 girls are woken up in their boarding school in the small village Chibok. A group of army-dressed men shoot their AK-47s while the group of terrified girls enters reluctantly into the Jeep trucks.

“We thought they were soldiers. They told us to get out of our hostels, saying that they had been sent to take us safety because Boko Haram was attacking the town. Suddenly they began to chant ‘Allahu Akbar’ -Allah is great- as they set the school buildings on fire. That is when we realized we were in the hands of Boko Haram” – narrates one of the girls who escaped, through a phone interview for LA times.

This is the chronicle of the massive kidnapping that took place last month in northern Nigeria. More girls were abducted during the following days. Currently, 276 girls are still missing. Nigeria’s government, with the international community’s support, claim to be doing all they can in order to rescue the minors from the merciless hands of Boko Haram.

With the latest events, the whole world has turned their eyes towards this country located in Western Africa, trying to figure out who is Boko Haram, and above all, how to stop them.

The extremist group finds its inspiration in the revivalist Islamist projects carried out in northern Nigeria during the XIX century. It was officially born in 2002 as a sect, guide by the charismatic preacher Muhammed Yusuf. The literal translation of “Boko Haram” means “Western education is sin”, which is the standard the group has been trying to impose for the last twelve years. Despite the fact that the group counts with the not-so-small number of 5000 victims in its back, the international community knows little about them. What led to their creation? How do they operate? How is the organization’s structure? Why has no one been able to stop them? And the million dollar question: who pays for all these deaths?

Abukabar Shekau, current Boko Haram leader from a youtube released in april 12,2012

Abukabar Shekau, current Boko Haram leader in a still from a video released on youtube  on april 12,2012

The kidnapping of the school girls is just the top of the ice-berg. Three months ago 50 teenagers were slaughtered in their school; some of them were burned alive. Since 2009, when the sect leader – who acted as a moderator-, was killed by Nigeria’s army, the group became more violent, bombing churches and killing politicians.

 According to a report given by IRIN to the UN, poverty and the government’s lack of interest is what have nurtured the lines of Boko Haram. At the same time, “Humans Right Watch”, proved that Nigerian army is guilty of violating human rights in its territory and the government’s corruption seems to be rampant. Otherwise, there is no logical explanation for the parsimony of resources employed to take actions towards the violent group. Moreover, scratching deeper, we found out that the group used to be financed by members of the government itself, as the former Borno state governor, Modu Sheriff. Nowadays, their income is believed to come from different extremist organizations, and from the sex-slaves-selling business, among other sources.

While the world waits powerless for better news, Nigeria continues under its living nightmare, wondering what will happen next.


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