The spate of female suicide bombings in Nigeria has become alarming and deplorable. Exacerbating the already appalling situation is the emerging trend where murderous insurgents use female children to carry out an increasing number of suicide bombings.

Hannatu Musawa A significant majority of the recent suicide bombers in Nigeria are believed to be girls between the ages of 10 and 16, with some speculations putting the number near 80 percent.

The latest (fourth) female suicide bombing in less than a week occurred in Kano State Polytechnic; according to reports, it killed six people. Earlier, two female suicide bombers were reported to have blown themselves up at a trade show and petrol station in Kano, killing one person and injuring about six people. Another female suicide bomber was also reported to have killed herself when trying to target some police officers. In Potiskum, Yobe State, two female suicide bombers are believed to have killed about 13 people in attacks on two mosques.

This recent technique by the insurgents to further cause mayhem and perpetuate their atrocities is indeed scary, as it involves females and, more especially, children. Children and females are generally viewed as the most unsuspecting to carry out such an odious endeavor. It is no wonder the insurgents have begun recruiting and using them as foot soldiers and vessels in propagating their misguided war in order, no doubt, to cause maximum destruction.

This latest tactic being employed by insurgents is disgusting and reprehensible. It marks a new low for a sect so desperate to actualize bloodletting on a gargantuan scale. At this point, every reasonable, sane Nigerian must be anxious to see that this band of marauding barbarians, who are ready to go to the extent of sacrificing weak and defenseless women and children for their criminal cause, is stopped and brought to book at all costs.

Even in their insane, warped understanding of their ‘so-called’ jihad mission, these insurgents must know that, in Islam, “jihad” is not obligatory for women. Even in the extreme cases found in the history of Islam when jihad was evoked, in order for jihad to be obligatory, there are seven conditions that have to be satisfied. These are: being a Muslim, being an adult, being of sound mind, being free, being male, being physically sound, and being able to afford it financially.

With regards to children taking part in jihad, Hadith tells us that a companion of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), Ibn ‘Umar, said: “I presented myself to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) on the day of Uhud when I was fourteen years old, and he did not let me join the fighting.” Also, regarding women taking part in jihad, in the Hadith of ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), she asked Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) thus: “O Messenger of Allah, do women have to engage in jihad?” His response was: “Jihad in which there is no fighting: Hajj and ‘Umrah’.” In essence, this ‘supposed’ jihad these insurgents are fighting, misconstruing Islamic texts and teachings, enkindling and coaxing some Islamic faithful into their cause is largely wrong, profane and a flagitious crime. And no true Muslim who knows the first basic fact about Islam can support, tolerate or understand where these lunatics are coming from. And to be honest, while these morons go around labeling everyone else as ‘infidels,’ it is them that misconstrue the real meaning of Islam that are the true infidels. They are the real ‘kaffir’s’ because they do not accept the message of peace of the Islamic faith.

Very worrying is the possibility that the girls and women being used for these suicide bombings could be from among the teeming girls and women that the insurgents continue to kidnap.

The kidnap of over 200 girls from Chibok – they are still in captivity over 100 days later – was just a cataclysm that garnered much media attention. The pre- and post-Chibok tragedy has seen pockets of girls and women being kidnapped by the insurgents. Apart from our Chibok girls, there have been various reports and eyewitness accounts of other women and girls being consistently kidnapped. Are some of the kidnapped girls being trained and used as potential foot soldiers and suicide bombers?

One can only imagine the amount of pressure and tactics used on the women and girls coerced into giving up their lives for a cause they really know nothing about. Many of the children used for suicide bombing operations, procured through outright kidnapping and coercion by insurgents, are believed to partake in it out of fear, loaded upon them by their extremist captors’ overbearing psychological influence. One can only fathom the level of indoctrination, enslavement and threats these girls and women may have gone through in the hands of the sect before involuntarily accepting to blow themselves up. It is highly plausible that these women, especially the girls, have been repeatedly threatened. Their families could very well have been used as a weapon or bargaining chips to ensure the girls’ susceptibility to the insurgents’ every command and caprice.

Eyewitnesses in a recent incident where a girl blew herself up in a failed attack on some police officers stated that they could see the fright in her eyes as she approached her victims. She didn’t appear to want to die, certainly not in that manner. It seemed obvious to many who saw her that she was most likely compelled or coerced to carry out the suicide mission.

In countries that have witnessed a high incidence of child suicide bombings, some of the children who have been rescued have said that many of them were coerced into agreeing to take part in suicide bombings for fear of losing their mothers, sisters and other members of their family. This might very well be the case in Nigeria as well.

In addition to kidnapped children, we must consider that a large portion of the children used by this particular group of insurgents are probably ‘almajiri’s’ and vulnerable children from less privileged families who have been brainwashed through networks of religious schools. It is common practice, especially in Northern Nigeria, for young children from poor families to be taken for Quranic studies with an Imam that is in a state, which is far from where their parents live. This, in large part, constitutes the ‘almajiri’ system. If a very young child being sent to a religious school ends up with an Imam who is a fundamentalist, raving lunatic, hell-bent on carrying out a misguided, outrageous mass murdering mission, the brainwash of such a guileless and impressionable child for the insurgent’s goal, proceeds.

Once an impressionable child finds themselves within the clutches of such fundamentalist insurgents, whether through being kidnapped or by going to a fundamentalist Imam for Quranic studies, especially if they are isolated and separated from any influence that is contrary to that of the insurgents or from any contact with an alternative surrogate authority, it wouldn’t be difficult for the children to be manipulated and indoctrinated in preparation for militant operations. It follows that they are likely to be easily susceptible to the influence of that extremist. The lack of access to a perspective that is different from the one that the insurgents are brain washing the children with, means that they will almost completely be oblivious to any alternative understanding or perception.

In this context, they could easily be seduced, bribed, tricked, manipulated or coerced to believe; by submitting themselves as ‘weapons of God,’ they would be acting in the name of Islam and by virtue of that, would receive the ultimate reward of heaven if they successfully carry out their operations. In this respect, the young children taken and molded into carrying out these heinous acts are as much the casualties of insurgency as those that they murder; they are casualties of an extremely ruthless exploitation process.

This practice amongst the rural Northern-Muslim community, where parents allow their children to be taken to different states for Quranic studies with unknown Mallams and Imams is one that has caused the North nothing positive but regression, lack of development, ignorance, illiteracy and narrow-mindedness. It is necessary for the federal government and every Northern state government and legislature to seriously look into ways of tackling the insurgency by regulating and monitoring the ‘state-to-state’ Quranic studies, completely putting an end to the almajiri practice, establishing far reaching programs that can take care of neglected youths and also consider a more pragmatic and scientific approach in order to curb this menace.

However, while this ‘brainwashed and coerced paradigm’ may explain the girl and child suicide bombers phenomenon being adopted by the insurgents, one must consider the possibility that some of the bombers could have been on drugs or were mentally deranged. Furthermore, the possibility of them being so poor and impoverished, that they opted for a better life in the hereafter formed from their understanding of sacrificing themselves in ‘jihad’ is altogether not too farfetched.

While the insurgent leaders prey on the weak and uneducated and exhort their minions into giving their lives for suicide missions, it appears that they make sure that themselves and their own children are not among those carrying out the missions. Why is the world yet to hear of one of the sons or daughters of the insurgent leader carrying out in ‘deed, not in words,’ what their father sermonizes and demands? One can be sure that the boastful and conceited leader of the insurgency would be more than willing to announce the fact that his child or wives have sacrificed themselves in a jihad mission in one of his recorded tirades… had they already done so! It really is sad that the young Nigerian men and women sent on these suicide missions, with a promise of everlasting life in paradise don't ask; why the leaders sending them out don’t go on the missions themselves or send their wives and children to blow themselves up instead?

Whenever the insurgents release footage of their leader’s incoherent and bizarre rants via the internet, boasting about the groups’ latest act of terror and yapping about the Muslim’s duty to sacrifice themselves and their children, one seriously can’t help but question why ‘he’ hadn’t ‘put his money where he mouth is’ and offered himself and his own offspring for the very sacrifice that he has forced on other people’s children.

Repeatedly, the leader of the insurgents has stated that, if he is eliminated like his predecessor was, he has trained other more ferocious potential leaders to take over the mantle of his leadership and continue with the reign of terror. But if he truly believed that: if he truly had confidence in the fact that he had created a solid milieu of jihad, violence and death, then why had he not already offered himself in that ultimate sacrifice, instead of preparing other people’s children to be sacrificed in his death cult?

It really is impossible to understand what right these insurgent leaders think they have to send other people’s children to their deaths and the deaths of a mass of innocent victims, while they and their own children live. It is pathetic and the ultimate display of cowardice for them to tempt young children in order to urge them to their deaths.

The authorities must step up its game and treat these urchins in the manner that murderous terrorists should be treated. Their menace has got to be curbed… and it has got to be curbed now!

Certainly the time has come for those that are directly involved in finding a solution to this nightmare to look at other motives that may be driving this insurgency: what is motivating or inducing the insurgents and what their ulterior motive is. Are those who carry out the suicide missions, impoverished, voiceless dupes tricked into killing themselves or conscious actors who do not need to be brainwashed? Or is there a financial motive pushing the bombers or are they just individuals who are politically and religiously motivated?

At the risk of stating the obvious, I’ve got to say that the soft approach is just not working in Nigeria and it isn’t recording any meaningful successes; instead, the insurgents have become even more brazen in some of their attacks on innocent Nigerians. Government has got to do every single thing necessary to adequately protect civilians and expose these murdering criminals. The government and its security apparatus needs to go back to the drawing board and fashion out a decisive permanent solution to a murdering menace, that has no conscience and is willing to, not only kidnap innocent children in the middle of the night, but to also cause huge pain and devastation by, likely, using them as weapons of mass destruction.

The onus remains on the government, via its security apparatus, to expose and unveil those behind the “mask” masquerading as a jihadist sect, putting an end to their reign of terror, violence and atrocities once and for all. What we are witnessing can just not go on! The rise of suicide bombing carried out by children alarmingly demonstrates that, if the current trend continues, the destruction, death and mayhem to come will surpass our very worst nightmare.

The use of female suicide bombers is certainly a new phenomenon in our clime and the war against terror. It’s a travesty that these murdering, callous insurgent buffoons operating within our shores can’t fathom how absolutely reprehensible it is. The use of female suicide bombers by the Nigerian insurgents shows just how far these vermin are willing to go in furthering their cause and the reign of terror in this great country of ours. They have consistently shown that they are inhumane, callous and barbaric; and, with this current tactic, they have shown how sadistic and cruel they can be. They have shown that they are bent on fanning out their atrociousness by whatever means available to them, irrespective of age or gender. They have shown that they are capable of the most monstrous acts, provided the resultant effect leads to fatalities. They have shown that they are no respecters of constituted authority and places of worship, as they have been known to target or spread their terror to churches and mosques. They have shown that they have no regard for any person and any religious authority, as they have carried out attacks on top Islamic clerics, Christian clergymen and top northern and southern leaders. Apparently, it should be understood that these terrorist insurgents are repugnant to every religion and belong in the lowest oubliette of hell!

As long as we fail to stop these insane monsters in the shortest possible time and allow them to continue wrapping themselves like snakes around impressionable young children, especially with the latest tactic where cowards and insurgents will ‘drain a girl-child’s brain’ in order to achieve maximum destruction, their special brand of evil might just… consume us all!

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