Well, it looks like Twitter hashtags, and selfies of Obama Administration figures holding up signs with slogans of deep concern, didn’t have much impact on the brutal Islamist terrorists of Boko Haram in Nigeria. They responded to all that “Bring Back Our Girls” pap by forcibly converting many of their captive Christian schoolgirls to Islam, as reported by CNN:
The video, released by French news agency Agence France-Presse, was shot in a nondescript bush area and showed about 100 girls.
In the 27-minute footage, the terror group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, says he is willing to exchange the schoolgirls for Boko Haram prisoners.
It shows girls dressed in black and gray hijabs, and reciting the Quran as they make Islamic declarations of faith. Shekau appears in a separate part of the video, but never with the girls.
“Praise be to Allah, the lord of the world,” the girls in the video chant.
Willingness to exchange the kidnapped girls for prisoners represents progress of a sort, since previously the Boko Haram leader was quite firm on his determination to sell them into slavery: “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.”
While we await for the planet-shaking thunderous denunciation of forced religious conversion from the united voices of the Muslim world, which will surely arrive any moment now, we can look to some of the fifty-odd girls who managed to escape from their abductors for an account of how Boko Haram treats is prisoners:
One of the escapees told CNN’s Nima Elbagir how she made a dash for freedom after militants loaded them into trucks and drove them into the nearby Sambisa Forest.
“We ran into the bush,” she said of her escape with two others. “We ran and we ran.” Lost and terrified, she said, they later ran toward flames they presumed were rising from a building set ablaze by the militants in their hometown.
Fox News has more from 19-year-old escapee Sarah Lawan, who might be the same unnamed person CNN interviewed. She described her ordeal as “too terrifying for words,” said she fears returning to school but is nevertheless determined to take the risk, and spoke of talking with other captives who overheard the terrorists making plans to marry them. This confirms other reports of forced “marriage” that amounts to discount slavery at roughly $12 a head.
There’s disagreement between the Nigerian government and Western authorities about where the captives are currently located, with the Nigerians insisting they’re still mostly being held in the jungle bunkers Boko Haram uses as bases, after being divided into a number of smaller groups to make rescue more difficult. Western military observers, on the other hand, think it more likely that some of the girls have been transported to Cameroon and Chad, possibly as part of the forced-marriage scheme.
Israel has offered to join the United States, Britain, China, and France in assisting the Nigerian government, which unfortunately has been far too slow to accept such assistance. “Israel expresses its deep shock at the crime against the girls,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan by telephone. “We are prepared to help in locating the girls and to fight the cruel terror which has struck you.”
CNN reporters on the scene confirmed rumors swirling over the weekend about advance warning of the mass kidnapping that was largely ignored by the Nigerian government:
Before the gun-wielding Islamist militants rode into town, residents said they got cell phone calls that the feared extremist group was on the way. Family and friends from surrounding villages told them of a convoy of cargo trucks, pickups and motorcycles. But no one knew what the attack would entail.
Residents said they passed along warnings to local authorities that the terrorists were on their way that night. Police called for reinforcements, but none came. Everyone, including police, fled into the bush. But the girls remained asleep in their dorms.
To be brutally honest, it doesn’t seem like a safe bet that Nigerian forces will be able to root Boko Haram out of their stronghold – reportedly protected by land mines – with only “advice” from a few Western counter-terrorism experts. The Nigerians remain more in Cover Your Ass mode than Kick-Ass Mode, with the information minister wailing, “We shouldn’t turn this into a trial of the Nigerian government.”
But if we don’t hold that “trial,” pronto, what’s the use of sending light support to an inept local security apparatus that’s likely to produce lots of dead hostages and dead-or-fled Nigerian troops, if they ever get around to engaging Boko Haram at all? Of course, Western nations might be reluctant to put boots on the ground in a campaign against a vicious enemy that knows the forbidding terrain well, and has hundreds of hostages to hide behind, and such action would require permission the Nigerians don’t seem eager to give. Say, now that Israel is offering its assistance, what are the chances we’ll see enlightened Muslim nations jumping in with an offer to engage – in either sharp-elbow negotiations or military conflict – with the terrorists who have hijacked their great religion and invoked the name of Allah to justify chattel slavery, forced conversion, and forced marriage?
It has been suggested that all the social-media hashtag stuff has helped “solidify” Western opposition to Boko Haram’s atrocity. What does it say about America, and her allies, if social media campaigns are necessary to get people angry about something like this? The American ruling class would have just sat on their hands and ignored the crisis if they didn’t get marching orders via Twitter? And what good is all that solidified, unified Western opposition going to do for the kidnapped girls, or Boko Haram’s next victims? The courage of escapee Sarah Lawan – determined to finish her law degree, even though she might be abducted again, or killed, by Islamist thugs – should be worth a thousand Twitter hashtags in demonstrating that Nigeria has a future worth fighting for.