The Devil in Nigeria Boko Haram's Reign of Terror
Part 2: 'Boko Haram Is an Evil Product of Hell'
Meanwhile, the terrorists are attacking churches, schools, police stations and military barracks. They attack and level villages with strike forces of up to 500 men. Most of their victims are Muslims. Some 375 were reportedly killed in an attack on the town of Gamboru in early May. The governor encountered angry citizens when he toured the devastated town. The entire world is worried about the kidnapped girls, "but no one is interested in our fate," the survivors complained. Politicians and public figures alike, from US First Lady Michelle Obama to Pope Francis I, have expressed their solidarity with the schoolgirls in a global online campaign.
In impoverished northern Nigeria, bombings have long been a regular occurrence. In a recent attack in Jos, a bomb ripped apart at least 118 people. In mid-April, 75 people died when a bomb exploded at a bus depot on the outskirts of Abuja. "Bodies, bodies everywhere," says an eyewitness who identifies himself as a member of the intelligence service. He is standing next to the bomb crater, now filled with rainwater. Only the steel skeleton of the bus depot is still standing. Boko Haram is bringing terror to the doorsteps of the powerful, creating growing anxiety in Abuja, he says.
The police and military are everywhere in the capital. Schools that can afford it install barbed wire fencing and post armed guards outside the gate. The driveway to the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the Maitama district is closed to traffic, and there are soldiers patrolling the parking lot. Anyone entering the grounds is scanned with a metal detector.
"Let us pray for the girls from Chibok," the pastor, wearing a white chasuble, told the congregation on the Sunday before last. "Boko Haram is an evil product of hell, and its leader Abubakar Shekau is a devil," he said after the service.
'Shekau Is not an Islamic Leader'
Nigerian psychologists who have analyzed Shekau's video appearances consider him to be megalomaniacal. Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, a Muslim scholar, also condemns his crimes. "Anyone who abducts and forcibly converts innocent children cannot invoke our faith," he says. "Shekau is not an Islamic leader."
Last Thursday, activists with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign marched to the presidential mansion in Abuja to protest against the president. Yanga Gapani, 40, was one of the demonstrators on that day. A stocky man, he is wearing one of the bright red T-shirts handed out by the organizers. Gapani is from Chibok, and nine girls from his family are among the girls abducted by Boko Haram. He recites their names: Haratu, Ishaku, Esther All are between the ages of 16 and 18.
Gapani, who works as a bookkeeper in the capital and has a regulated income, supported the girls financially and paid their tuition. When he last spoke on the phone with one of his nieces, a few weeks ago, she said imploringly: "Uncle, I need some sweets again."
"Our hearts are bleeding and our eyes are filled with tears," says Gapani, "but we will never give up hope." He recently saw the video in which the terrorists paraded 100 girls in gray hijabs, who had allegedly converted to Islam. When he scrutinized the faces, Gapani recognized his niece Tabitha, who was once such a happy girl.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
- Part 1: Boko Haram's Reign of Terror
- Part 2: 'Boko Haram Is an Evil Product of Hell'