News / Africa

New Boko Haram Video Allegedly Shows Abducted Girls

Churchgoers pray for the release of schoolgirls abducted from the village of Chibok at an Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) church in Abuja, Nigeria, May 11, 2014.
Churchgoers pray for the release of schoolgirls abducted from the village of Chibok at an Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) church in Abuja, Nigeria, May 11, 2014.
VOA News
The Islamist militant group Boko Haram has released a video it claims shows dozens of missing schoolgirls abducted last month in northern Nigeria.  

The 17-minute video shows about 100 of the girls dressed in black and gray full-length hijabs, sitting in an undisclosed rural area, reciting Muslim scriptures and holding their hands for prayers. 

The group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, speaks on the video obtained by the French news agency AFP for 17 minutes before showing what he said were the girls, in Muslim dress and praying in an undisclosed rural location.

The White House says it has seen the video and has no reason to question its authenticity. Spokesman Jay Carney said U.S. intelligence experts are carefully looking at the video for clues that could help find the girls. He also said the Untied States is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to Nigeria's government.

"As you know, President Obama has directed his team to do everything it can to support the Nigerian government's efforts to find and free these girls.  I can report to you that our interdisciplinary team with representatives from the State Department, Department of Defense, the FBI and others is up and running now in our Embassy in Nigeria, helping to support the Nigerian government by providing military and law enforcement assistance as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support," said Carney.

"Our intelligence experts are combing through every detail of the video for clues that might help in ongoing efforts to secure the release of the girls," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday.  After acknowledging that "Nigeria is in the lead" in the effort to find the girls and that the U.S. was playing a support role, Psaki dismissed Shekau's demand, saying  "the United States' policy is to deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts - including ransoms or concessions."

In comments to the French News Agency, Nigerian Interior Minister Abba Moro said the government would not consider a swap of jailed militants for the schoolgirls.

But the Director General of Nigeria's National Orientation Agency, Mike Omeri, said officials are studying the situation, and all options remain open to free the missing girls.

Nigerian authorities are holding hundreds of suspected Boko Haram militants in jail.

A total of 276 girls were abducted on April 14 from the northeastern town of Chibok, in Borno state, which has a sizeable Christian community. About 223 are still missing.

The footage shows about 130 girls in black and grey full-length hijabs sitting on scrubland near trees, reciting the first chapter of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, and holding their palms upwards in prayer.
 
A video from Boko Haram claims to show the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls wearing full-length hijabs and praying in an undisclosed location in a screengrab taken May 12, 2014.
A video from Boko Haram claims to show the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls wearing full-length hijabs and praying in an undisclosed location in a screengrab taken May 12, 2014.
In the video, three of the girls are interviewed. Two of the girls said they were Christian and had converted, while the other one said she was Muslim. Most of the group remained seated. The girls appeared calm and one said that they had not been harmed.

There was no indication of when the video was taken, although the quality is better than on previous occasions and at one point an armed man is seen in the shot with a hand-held video camera.

Boko Haram has been waging an increasingly deadly insurgency in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north since 2009, attacking schools teaching a "Western" curriculum, churches and government targets.

Civilians, though, have borne the brunt of recent violence, with more than 1,500 killed this year alone while tens of thousands have been displaced after their homes and businesses were razed.

Analysts on the region

Journalist Eliza Griswold called Boko Haram's Shekau “a lunatic” on CNN's GPS Sunday news show.

Griswold wrote "The Tenth Parallel," describing the latitude that bisects a number of troubled countries, including Nigeria.

“Abubakar Shekau ... is really a lunatic. If one were to compare him to somebody else in Africa, we would look at Joseph Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, who actually in setting precedent took a whole school of young girls from their boarding school some years ago in northern Uganda,” Griswold said.

“Both of them use religion. Kony claims generally to be Catholic. So it really is not as much about Islam as it really is about thuggery, about seizing power, about sex, about taking these young women really as sex slaves and cooks to do the things that the militants themselves don’t want to do,” she said.

Griswold described Boko Haram as "a group that's really more of a mess than a militant group. They are a bunch of armed young men who come out of an Islamic movement in northern Nigeria. So Nigeria is split, north-south, largely Christian and Muslim along those lines.”

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof said on the CNN news show, “I think we have this misperception that the great divide is between different faiths. Between Christianity and Islam, for example. ... It's not so much between different faiths, it's between moderates and extremists, generally.

“Moderate Muslims and moderate Christians have a great deal in common. Extremists Muslims and extremists Christians have in common the willingness to resort to violence, oppression, and that is what we're seeing with Boko Haram,” Kristof said.

“If you look at places where women and girls are least likely to get educated, where they're most likely to be oppressed, then those are disproportionately countries with conservative Muslim populations," he said.

"But there are also places where the culture itself, quite aside from religion, is deeply oppressive of women. I mean, Afghanistan, for example. And I think that, you know, what we're seeing here is, unfortunately, a spiral. ...

"So in northern Nigeria, there is very little education. Women are marginalized, partly for cultural and historical reasons. Often people cite Islam as the reason. Female literacy in this region is less than 50 percent. And then that leads people to think girls shouldn't get educated, that leads them to attack schools so girls don't get educated, which leaves those areas be further marginalized. Women to be less a part of the economy, less a part of the society and leads groups like Boko Haram to have even more influence,” he said.
 
Calls girls "liberated"

In the video, Shekau appears in front of a lime green canvas backdrop wearing combat fatigues and carrying an automatic weapon. Shekau does not appear in the same shot as the girls at any point during the 27-minute video.

Speaking in Hausa and Arabic, he restates his claim of responsibility made in a video released last Monday and said the girls had converted to Islam.

"These girls, these girls you occupy yourselves with … we have indeed liberated them. We have indeed liberated them. Do you know we have liberated them? These girls have become Muslims," Shekau said.

The militant leader said that Boko Haram's brothers in arms had been held in prison for up to five years and suggested that the girls would be released if the fighters were freed.

"We will never release them [the girls] until after you release our brethren. Here I mean those girls who have not submitted [converted to Islam]," he added.

Boko Haram has used kidnapping of women and young girls in the past and Shekau indicated that more were being held.

At least eight girls were abducted from the Gwoza area of Borno state on May 4.

Chibok forces overwhelmed

Borno state Gov. Kashim Shettima confirmed over the weekend that the government had received information about a possible attack on the Chibok school hours before the gunmen arrived, and that they notified security officials in Chibok.

Shettima said Chibok residents spotted the gunmen as they traveled toward Chibok on the day of the attack.

He said the residents notified a government official who then contacted the Chibok police chief, as well as the military and riot police commanders stationed in the village.

Shettima said the security forces assured the government official they were prepared for the militants. The revelation further confirmed what Amnesty International reported last week, that law enforcement agencies that the Nigerian military was warned ahead of the attack, but that they were over powered.

International efforts

Nigeria's government has been criticized for its lack of immediate response to the kidnapping but has been forced to act after Shekau threatened to sell the girls as slaves.

President Goodluck Jonathan has now accepted help from the United States, Britain, France, China and Israel, which have sent specialist teams to help in the search effort.

A Pentagon official confirms the U.S. is now providing Nigeria with ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) in the search for the missing girls. 

French President Francois Hollande on Sunday offered to host a summit in Paris on May 17 with Nigeria and its neighbors focused on the militant group.

The leaders of Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger might also attend and Britain, the European Union and the United States would probably be represented as well, Hollande's aides said.

The abducted girls were also on the minds of European foreign ministers meeting Monday in Brussels.

"The thoughts of all of us remain with the families, especially the parents of the abducted children, the girls in Nigeria. I have no doubt that that will again become part of our discussions today as it is so important that we all continue to help to support the Nigerian government to find the girls and reunite them with their family,” said Catherine Ashton, European Union foreign policy chief.

The mass abduction of schoolgirls has touched a chord around  the world, and triggered a support campaign using the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, Reuters, AP. VOA's Scott Stearns reported from the State Department.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Paul njoku from: Plateau
May 23, 2014 6:41 PM
The text is highly telling every one to be security vigelant

by: Anonymous
May 16, 2014 2:11 PM
Mr shekau, create the fear of god almighty you.god has the power & authority to save the young girl from your evil.but he allow it to happen so that he will be glorify..

by: Al-ameen from: kaduna
May 16, 2014 3:52 AM
Boko haran Allah watch all ur stupidities. u know, I know, we know what u are doing is not islamic.Its never found in d sirah of prophet Muhammad (saw) its against even international law and its against human rights.Stop spoiling islam name and muslims.Your end is near u kufur people hypocrit come out figth eyes for eyes with men stop abducting female kids.There are no reasons to plead or beg u to return them back Allah wil personally handle fools like speciallay ur leader shukau son of marwa mai-tatsine useles people

by: bisi from: jos
May 14, 2014 1:10 PM
God help nigeria.

by: Ezee from: abuja
May 13, 2014 9:31 AM
Please boko haram bring back our girls safely without duress

by: Hadizah from: Kaduna
May 13, 2014 8:58 AM
May ALLAH hlp us in Nigeria o, coz i dnt really see the reason why bokoram jst decide to be suffering innocent people. our PRESIDENT please give them what they want so that everybody can get rest of mind in NIGERIA.

by: samuel from: jos
May 13, 2014 5:51 AM
Boko haram menbers has no human feels. And I belive they are all fools. If rely d know what they are doing. They will not carry those girls away. Boko haram your days are numberd. Beacus I know that in one month time they will all die.

by: Anonymous
May 12, 2014 6:24 PM
No negotiation with Boko Haram. They should stop deceiving themselves. those girls they shew are not the girls they kidnapped. Since they claim to be strong, they should face fire for fire. Have they forgoten they said they are the one to give us amnesty? We're waiting for their amnesty.

by: Raymond from: Pta
May 12, 2014 4:29 PM
May good god be with them

by: Justice. from: Monrovia
May 12, 2014 3:28 PM
More attention should be paid to countries like Niger, Chad,& Cameroon, Seen to be the militants' escape & insurgence rout. God help Nigeria.
Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs