This Thursday, April 14th, will mark two years passed since the mass kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria. But despite an international effort, as well as the social media campaign #bringbackourgirls, they have yet to be found. It’s apparent that the terror group is well-aware of the international fame the girls have garnered, and thus makes them an important bargaining chip. And, because of that, it’s highly likely that the missing girls are well-guarded and well-hidden. More recently, it’s been revealed that the group demanded over 50 million USD in exchange for the captive students.
Boko Haram, or “Western education is forbidden,” is a prominent terror group in Africa, particularly in Nigeria. An Islamic extremist group, they gained notoriety for its’ countless raids on schools. The rise of the group was exacerbated by the fact that, while Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, as well as the largest oil producer and the country with the largest economy in Africa, the country’s government runs rampant with corruption. Their presence has also been made in neighboring countries such as Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.
In March of last year, the group pledged its’ allegiance to ISIS, another Islamic extremist organization. But despite the fact that ISIS tends to be the more notable of the two in terms of media coverage, especially amidst the attacks in Paris and Brussels, Boko Haram was named as the most dangerous terror group in the world in a November 2015 terror report. According to the report, the terror group was responsible for 6,664 deaths in 2014–A 317% increase from 2014. And while Iraq was named as the country that experienced the most terror attack in 2014, with 9,929 deaths, Nigeria was second on the list.
Late last year, the Director of Information at the Defense Headquarters, Colonel Rabe Abubakar, announced that all known Boko Haram camps had been destroyed. Additionally, the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, claimed in December of last year that Boko Haram was “technically defeated.” Despite this, it’s obvious that the group hasn’t been suppressed as much as one would hope or think following these claims. More recently, the use of children as suicide bombers has risen to alarming numbers, with a recent report claiming that 1-in-5 Boko Haram suicide bombers are children. And, despite two years’ time since the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls, they are still missing.
It’s obvious that the terror group still has a lasting effect on the region. As many as 2.3 million people have been displaced by the conflicts involving Boko Haram, and has killed thousands since the start of its’ military operations in 2009. Nearly 2000 schools have been ravaged as a result of the fighting, and are left to crumble or are used as homeless shelters for the countless people that have become refugees. The group’s elusive leader, Abubakar Shekau, hasn’t been seen or spotted in over a year.Some speculate that he’s either dead, or has since been replaced. Nevertheless, many view it as a sign that the group has since lost much of its’ power, and is finally beginning to crumble.