WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Christian girl who fled Nigeria after Islamic terrorists killed her family on Tuesday relayed to journalists in Washington the macabre conversation Boko Haram members had just before they shot and killed her brother.
The terrorists, in 2011, had just killed her father, a Christian pastor, and while one member of a Boko Haram hit squad that came to her home argued to let the young boy live, the other two agreed that he should be shot and killed because he might grow up to be a Christian pastor.
The stunning testimony is part of what Deborah Peters, now a student in the United States, related at an event set up by the Hudson Institute.
Peters, 15, originally from Chibok, where hundreds of her contemporaries and friends recently were kidnapped by Boko Haram in what has developed into a crisis for global proportions, said three Islamists in the Boko Haram terror group stormed into her family’s home.
Her father, a Christian pastor, was in the bathroom showering when they arrived.
“It was 7:30 and three men knocked on the door and asked where my dad is,” she said. “They drug him from the bathroom and shouted for him to deny his faith. He said he wouldn’t … and they shot him three times in the chest.”
Then they debated killing her younger brother.
They concluded leaving him alive was a danger they could not risk, because he might grow up to be a Christian pastor too.
“They shot my brother twice in the chest and he shook,” she said. Then they killed him with a shot in the mouth.
According to the institute, Boko Haram since 2011 has killed more than 1,000 Nigerian Christians. Churches, villages and homes occupied by Christians have been bombed, torched and destroyed.
Its atrocities are nearly boundless, with one 2013 attack on an agricultural college in Nigeria’s northern Yoba State costing the lives of 44 sleeping students and teachers.
She said she is speaking out because she wants others to understand what is happening. If they hear her story, she reasoned, they will understand the need to stand strong.
Emmanuel Ogebe, an international human rights lawyer and expert in bilateral U.S.-Nigerian relations, returned last week from a three week fact-finding mission to Nigeria and refugee camps along the border with Cameroon.
There, he interviewed many Boko Haram victims. And along with Peters, he shared his concern about what is going on.
He noted that the attacks essentially are a global jihad, pointing out that Boko Haram is the second-deadliest terror group, next to al-Qaida.
“When Christians get pushed to the wall the dam will give, and I fear what will happen when it does,” he said. “When it does it will make Bosnia look like child’s play.
“Christians have shown a tremendous [amount] of grace but I don’t know how much more that will last.”
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Boko Haram is a phrase that means, “Western education is a sin,” and the name has been adopted by those who want to enforce a Shariah-law theocracy in Nigeria.
The abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls just a few weeks ago pushed the fighting in Nigeria into the international spotlight and the terror group’s threat to sell the girls for $12 each outraged the world.
The BBC was reporting on Tuesday that Nigerian officials were preparing to negotiate with the terrorists for the release of at least some of the kidnap victims.
Cabinet Minister Tanimu Turaki said if Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is serious about his proposal to swap girls for jailed Boko Haram fighters, he should send someone to discuss it.
A video emerged only this week revealing an estimated 130 of the girls – wearing hijabs and reciting the Quran.
BBC reported the girls have been identified by their families as those abducted from Chibok Secondary School.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan asked his national assembly to extend for another six months a state of emergency in the Borno State region, where the abductions happened.
Experts from the U.S., United Kingdom, France and China have traveled to Nigeria to advise, and reports said an Israeli counter-terrorism team was dispatched to the scene.