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The leader of a radical Muslim movement in Nigeria is admitting his group abducted more than 300 Nigerian girls and now says he’s ready to sell them because he’s got plenty of buyers.
According to news reports, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau confessed via video to the abductions three weeks ago because the girls were enrolled in Western education, which he deems as sinful.
However, the nightmare for the girls and their families is only getting worse. Two have died from snakebites and 20 more are ill. Of the 300, Nigeria’s police say 276 are still in captivity and 53 have escaped. Many of the Christians have been forced to convert to Islam, according to reports.
In the video, Shekau said the students “will remain slaves with us,” but he then vowed to take even more drastic action.
“They are slaves, and I will sell them because I have the market to sell them,” said Shekau in the video, which begins with fighters shooting rifles into the air and chanting “Allahu Akbar!”
Nigeria currently ranks 14th on the World Watch List, an annual ranking of nations most hostile to Christianity. The list is compiled by Open Doors USA, one of the most prominent organizations serving persecuted Christians. The U.S.-designated terror group, Boko Haram, which also calls itself the “Nigerian Taliban,” seeks to overthrow Nigeria’s government and replace it with a regime based on Shariah law, according to the National Counterterrorism Center. The name Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden.”
Open Doors President and CEO Dr. David Curry said Boko Haram is notorious for ghastly behavior toward Christians, including the burning of many churches and murdering scores of college students, but he said these abductions and the selling of girls into sexual slavery takes their barbarism to a new low.
“This is the way they operate, but I think it’s particularly caught the imagination of the American press because these are innocent girls,” Curry said. “They’re just at school trying to be educated so they can have a better future. The Islamic group Boko Haram sees this as a threat. They see the education of women as problematic to their theology.”
Curry said given Boko Haram’s track record, a happy conclusion to this story is very unlikely.
“Unfortunately, I think it’s very difficult to envision where they’re all going to be returned to their families, but we’re certainly hoping and praying that that’s the case,” he said. “As time goes on now, you begin to wonder if they’ll be able to bring back these girls who are being scattered around the world.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Dr. David Curry:
According to Curry, Boko Haram is responsible for years of bloodshed, intimidation and instability in Nigeria.
"Boko Haram is an Islamic extremist group that operates in the northern part of Nigeria. For the last several months, Open Doors has seen a deterioration of the situation there. Boko Haram has done many attacks against Christian churches and villages, in some cases surrounding the village and shooting and burning throughout the village and killing 100-200 people. Now we have these girls kidnapped and sold for $12.50," Curry said.
"So it's a group that seeks to set up a regime that forces their faith upon others, and Christians are seen in that context as a hostile group so they've been attacked. And it's education. Open Doors and other groups promoting women having access to education and the freedom to have careers and so forth. They see this as a real threat to their theology, and so they're attacking these Christian schools. It's very scary."
While Boko Haram is responsible for inflicting murder and terror in Nigeria, Curry said the current leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan has been very weak in dealing with this threat, and the Western nations haven't been much better.
"The political leadership has been ineffectual to this point," Curry said. "They don't seem to have the resources or the will to protect Christian churches, schools and some of these outlying villages where Christians gather together for safety. The Western governments have been ineffectual as well. Even though there have been extreme attacks in northern Nigeria for some time now, the American government and others are just now starting to speak up and consider some plan to support the Nigerian government.
"So you have some ineffectual political leadership on either side. Christians need to make sure that this is a topic that stays front of mind in the awareness of the American public because it's so crucial. The situation is so brutal and so desperate."
Curry said his organization is doing everything it can to support the Christian believers under siege in Nigeria. He also explained how Americans can help.
"Open Doors is very active within Nigeria to support the church, to help rebuild some of these churches that have been attacked and burned down, to try to support these education programs where we're helping to educate women and girls in these areas. Â So we're right there," he said. "We'd just encourage Christians to support work in these areas and be prayerful for the safety of these girls and these ministries that are operating in northern Nigeria."