Nigerian terrorist group video says kidnapped schoolgirls won't be freed until jailed members released
LAGOS, Nigeria — Under the guns of their captors, dozens of barefoot girls sat huddled together wearing gray Muslim veils as they chanted Quranic verses in Arabic. Some Christians among them said they had converted to Islam.
“I swear to almighty Allah, you will not see them again until you release our brothers that you have captured,” the leader of the Boko Haram terrorist network threatened, an assault rifle slung across his chest.
A video released by the group on Monday offered the first public glimpse of what it claims are some of the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped a month ago. The girls' plight has spurred a global movement to secure their freedom.
It is not known how many suspected Boko Haram members are detained by security forces. Hundreds were killed last month when leader Abubakar Shekau's fighters stormed the military's main northeastern barracks in Maiduguri, the terror group's birthplace and the headquarters of a year-old military state of emergency, to put down the five-year-old Islamic uprising.
The United States has deployed manned surveillance aircraft over Nigeria and is sharing satellite imagery with the Nigerian government to find the girls, a senior Obama administration official said.
“We have shared commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerians and are flying manned ... assets over Nigeria with the government's permission,” the official said.
America has sent military, law-enforcement and development experts to Nigeria to help search for the missing girls, who were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok in remote northeastern Nigeria on April 14.
In the video, two of the girls were singled out for questioning.
“Why have you become a Muslim?” one girl, who looked to be in her early teens, was asked.
“The reason why I became a Muslim is because the path we are on is not the right path,” the girl said, nervously shifting her body from side to side, her eyes darting back and forth.
“We should enter the right path so that Allah will be happy with us,” added the girl, who said her name had been changed to Halima because she had converted from Christianity to Islam. Like the other girls, she wore a bulky gray hijab that covered her body from head to toe, revealing only her face.
A second girl, who appeared to be in her mid-teens, was asked whether she or any of the others had been mistreated. No, she said, adding that they had experienced nothing “except righteousness.”
As the girls chanted Islamic verses, some clasped their hands together in what appeared to be the Christian style of prayer before quickly turning their palms upward, as Muslim worshippers do.
The girls' families have said most of those seized from the school are Christians.
It was impossible to fully authenticate the video, though parents were trying to turn on a generator in Chibok, hoping to watch the video and identify their daughters, said a town leader, Pogu Bitrus.
“There's an atmosphere of hope — hope that these girls are alive, whether they have been forced to convert to Islam or not,” he said. “We want to be able to say, ‘These are our girls.' ” The video showed about 100 girls, indicating they may have been broken up into smaller groups as some reports have indicated.
Fifty-three girls managed to escape and 276 remain missing, police say.
Bitrus said vegetation in the video looked like the Sambisa Forest, about 20 miles from Chibok, where the girls were believed to have been spirited away.
In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said intelligence experts were “combing over every detail” of the latest recording. He said administration officials have seen the video and “have no reason to question its authenticity.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Blair to quit post as U.N. special Middle East envoy
- Nuclear talks bog down as Iran team balks at key decisions, envoys say
- Relentless heat wave kills more than 1,000 in India
- Rocket fired from Gaza Strip strikes Israeli port
- Eiffel Tower temporarily shut down as employees walk out
- Dozens dead in gunfight on Mexico ranch
- Women’s walk across Koreas’ DMZ denied; they cross by bus
- Saudi King Salman vows retribution for suicide attack on mosque
- Conservative populist Duda becomes Poland’s president
- Iraqi militias begin move on Ramadi