Who would have known it? Pink Floyd provides the theme song for Boko Haram.
“We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control. No dark sarcasm in the classroom. Teachers leave them kids alone. Hey! Teachers leave them kids alone. All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall. All in all, your just another brick in the wall” (Pink Floyd, Another Brick in the Wall).
Unfortunately, a rocker’s classic, which is an enjoyable counter-cultural expression, is the dangerous dogma of de-oxygenated religious fanatics in Nigeria.
Early this year Boko Haram members set out once again with a bent toward terror. Their dangerous agenda increasingly seeks out soft targets as they find themselves with diminishing tactical options. On the heels of assassinating nine women who were administering polio vaccines, Boko Haram killed three North Korean doctors. One of the physicians was beheaded. The other two had their throats slit with machetes. I grew up within an indigenous tribal zone where these are tools that are to be respected. A machete is both a great agrarian tool and a formidable defensive weapon. Potiskum was the Nigerian town that the North Korean doctors called home. It is situated three miles from Government Secondary School in Mamudo village, the site of a Boko Haram attack this month. Tragedy unfurled under the cover of darkness. Boko Haram worked their dark arts once again.
Armed with jerry cans of fuel, they torched an administrative block and one of the hostels of the children. Twenty-nine boarding school students and one English teacher were shot and/or burnt alive. Some of the remains were unidentifiable.
Not content with their body count, Boko Haram struck again. Forty-nine students lost their lives when another dorm facility was assaulted. Those who tried to escape death by incineration received death by projectile.
How can a grieving parent give a child a proper burial when they cannot identify their own progeny? Partially cremated remains also leave a psychological wound for those who believe family members must be returned to the soil. Performing pre-burial rituals can bring a measure of comfort for the loss. For Muslims, this last act of bathing and shrouding the body provides a tactile experience of care whilst the soul is perhaps still travelling across the isthmus. For Christians, to be absent from the body is to be present with our Lord. We also have rituals that allow us to mourn.
What is a nation to do when women are killed for providing a life-saving vaccine? How must a nation respond when medical and education resources are targeted? What must be done when young students are burnt alive or shot in the back as they flee from evil? If we believe there is a force in the world that works for the good, we must also embrace the concept of evil. One cannot exist without the other. Boko Haram is part of the dark side of the equation.
This group resides within the configuration of what is noted as the ‘Islamic Small Wars’, the coin of James Oppenheim. As his research continues, the definition continues to be refined. In discussing this issue in 2012, he had this to say: “The Islamic Small Wars (ISW) are all civil wars within Islamic-majority states that have some interface with the West, largely dominated by location, albeit universally characterised by a nearly global xenophobia. Ultimately, they are about the development of power, largely through intimidation and fear, and not so much concerned with constituent needs, the earth, or insight into the character of humanity within nature and engaged with God.”
Compact and dangerous. Ideologically driven. Capable of great societal harm. This is Boko Haram. What kind of men recruit children as their foot soldiers and ply them with date fruit laden with Tramadol so that they will have blunted emotional response? Are these men, or do they qualify as a lesser order of animal? Evil always initially rapes an individual of his humanity.
We lose the battle because of tactical miscalculations. In the immediate aftermath of horrific attacks the predator must quickly be turned to prey. If skilled hunters were not dispatched against Boko Haram while the smoke was still in the air at the school and hostel, valuable time was lost. More simply put, groups such as Boko Haram must find themselves within increasingly restricted zones of operation. There must be no place to run, no place to hide.
To a greater degree, peaceful citizens suffer because of a lack of strategic depth within the intellectual battle-space. Please do not misunderstand the concept. This is not about ‘winning hearts and minds’, a failed model that is unworkable within zones of conflict. Ideological sickness must be quarantined and eradicated. We must do a better job at dismantling myths of Islamic supremacy.
Abubakar Shekau is the leader of this hyena pack. Any man who brags about killing children has a set of vocal cords bigger than his testicles. I could knock off a child. It is nothing to brag about. Yet the government of Nigeria is said to have cut a deal with his second-in-command. There should be no sanctuary for such men. Don’t shake hands with such men. Break their necks.
This week I viewed an extremely troubling video posted on a Facebook account. The young men were possibly 10-12 years of age. Their appearance was one of distinct Sino-Asian heritage. They were engaged in the art of war, learning to fire various weapons. The jihad banner waved in the background.
At a jihad portal, the agitprop of an adolescent Arab male made an appearance. Seated on an ornate couch and dressed in stylish Western clothing, he urged his audience to commit acts of jihad. Does his father fly to London for business and his mother shop in Dubai? The young man is indoctrinated. His mannerisms show that he is trained to commandeer an audience. He is delusional. Label him a danger to society.
What are you prepared to do?
The writer is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Arsenal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org