Last spring, Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram drew world headlines when it abducted more than 300 schoolgirls from a school in Chibok, in Nigeria’s northern Borno state. Despite the commitment of U.S. military assistance and global awareness through the #bringbackourgirls campaign, the vast majority of the kidnapped girls have not been freed and their fate remains unknown. However, some of the girls have managed to escape by their own efforts. A few of the escaped girls arrived in the United States recently to continue their studies with the help of scholarships.
Saa*, an 18-year-old student, is one of the Chibok schoolgirls who escaped Boko Haram. This was the first public appearance by any of those girls in the United States. International human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe recently concluded a one-month investigation into the suspected use of the Christian schoolgirls by Boko Haram in the rash of suicide bombings by young females reported this summer. Ogebe is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security on Boko Haram’s declaration of a caliphate in captured territories. On Friday, September 19th, Nina Shea, director of Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, moderated a panel with Saa and Ogebe to discuss the ongoing violence of Boko Haram.
U.N. and Nigerian officials report that more than 6 million Nigerians have been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, with more than 300,000 displaced and thousands made refugees in Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. Hundreds of women and girls are believed to have been abducted, forcibly converted to Islam, and enslaved through continual raids by Boko Haram on Christian villages. Untold numbers of Nigerian Christian men have been summarily killed for refusing to convert to Islam. Boko Haram’s attacks have increased substantially in frequency, reach, and lethality since 2010, and now occur almost daily and have spread to nation’s capital and the predominantly Christian south. The U.S. State Department designated Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on November 14, 2013 and listed Boko Haram as the deadliest terror group in the world after the Taliban in 2013.
*Real name withheld