Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Boko Haram has greatly increased its use of children as suicide bombers.

The ISIS flag. 

A UN report says that Boko Haram greatly increased its use of children as suicide bombers in 2015. Washington Post. In 2014, Boko Haram only used 4 children in attacks but that number increased more then tenfold in 2015 to 44. 20% of all suicide attacks by Boko Haram are conducted by children. Most of those children, some as young as eight years old, were girls. The UN report pointed out that these children were victims, not perpetrators. Most of them were either coerced into doing these attacks or were lied to about what they were going to do. Many of the children were abducted by Boko Haram. The terrorist group, affiliated with ISIS, has a long history of abusing children. They have abducted many and forced them to either be soldiers or pressured them into arranged marriages. Though Boko Haram has lost most of the territory it used to hold, the group has been conducting multiple terrorist attacks throughout the region. 

My Comment:
I have talked about Boko Haram using children as suicide bombers before. I was disgusted by it then and I am disgusted by it now. Boko Haram has done some absolutely horrible things, and though they are related to ISIS, they do things that even ISIS hasn't done. I can't imagine that using children as bombs is popular even among Jihadists. Even evil people have standards, and almost everyone agrees that you don't do what Boko Haram is doing to children.

But there seems to be no depths of depravity that Boko Haram and ISIS will go for their Islamic beliefs. Boko Haram tricks little girls into carrying bombs to kill large groups of innocent people. ISIS uses young children in execution videos. And both groups have killed thousands of people in the name of God. 

I'm not the most religious person around. But I like to think that I know the difference between good and evil. And any god that thinks that tricking a small child into blowing herself up is a righteous and good act isn't one that anyone should be worshiping. Such a god would be totally evil, and not worthy of even the smallest bit of worship. So either Allah is a god of evil, or he isn't and Boko Haram is betraying their own religion. I will leave it up to theologians and philosophers to decide. 

Of course, Boko Haram has a long history of attacking children. Their very name roughly translates to "education is evil/a sin". Their goal has long been to deny children a proper education, and they are willing to kill innocent people to prevent children from learning. Again, these people are willing to murder children in order to prevent them from learning about things that might be "un-Islamic". That is totally insane. 

Boko Haram is also one of the deadliest and prolific terrorist groups in the world. They conducted the most terrorist attacks last year out of anyone and that is despite the fact that they have gotten their collective butts kicked militarily. Most of the territory they used to hold has been lost, but the group has not been destroyed completely. Indeed, they are more prolific then ever. Not being able to hold territory means that they are more free to use their fighters in raids and suicide bombings. Holding territory takes a lot of soldiers, and not having to defend it frees up those soldiers to do other things. Boko Haram is also desperate and that may lead them to do desperate things. But nothing justifies using children as bombers. 

Boko Haram is also linked to ISIS but even at this point, they have little interaction with each other. Boko Haram has very few foreign fighters. Islamists in Africa are mostly Arab and not black like Boko Haram. Most of those Arab fighters either end up in Syria or in Libya, to fight with their fellow Arabs. And Muslims from outside of the Arab world are much more likely to go to Syria or Iraq instead of Boko Haram. They want to be where the action is and fighting for places that have historical significance. Nigeria just doesn't have the draw that the Middle East and North Africa has. 

In the past I complained about how my posts about Boko Haram haven't gotten the attention that my other posts have. Of course the last post I wrote about them performed rather well, but I think that is an outlier. For the most part, most people don't care about Boko Haram, even if they are conducting atrocities like these. 

Why? It's Africa. Nobody really cares about what happens in Africa. Sure, North Africa gets some attention, especially Egypt and Libya, but once you get south of the Sahara, nobody wants to hear about it. I think, at some level, people expect Africa to be dysfunctional. That's a stereotype and it isn't true for every country in Africa, but it is based on some facts. I think people long ago dismissed Africa as a place filled with tinpot dictators, brutal warfare, and a total lack of hope for things to get better.  

But I do think it is important to cover Boko Haram. For one, the actions they are taking are beyond the pale and should be covered extensively just because it shows how evil people can be. And it is very possible that Boko Haram could evolve into a more dangerous threat, from a western perspective. While Boko Haram has not conducted much in the way of international terrorism, they are building up a large group of veteran terrorists that could eventually be used against the west. If Boko Haram were to fail completely, these seasoned fighters could end up with ISIS, or even in any western country foolish enough to let them in. Either way, the cause of international terrorism is advanced... 

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