Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram, an affiliate of the Islamic State, has released a video showing some of the schoolgirls kidnapped from the village of Chibok in April 2014. The terrorists are demanding the release of fighters imprisoned by the Nigerian government in exchange for the girls.
CNN interviewed Yakubu Kabu, the father of one missing Chibok girl, and he confirmed his daughter is indeed seen speaking in the video. He also said he recognized many of the other girls in the recording, which was addressed to the parents of the kidnap victims.
“In the video a masked Boko Haram militant, holding a rifle, speaks in the Hausa language in front of a group of around 50 girls wearing headscarves,” CNN reports. “A girl is picked out to answer questions about who she is and she gives her name as Maida Yakubu.”
“We are not happy living here. I’m begging our parents to meet the government to release their people so that we can be released,” Maida Yakubu says in the video.
Unfortunately, the Boko Haram message also “shows what appears to be several dead and injured girls strewn across the ground.” According to the masked militant who hosts the presentation, these are the bodies of kidnapped girls killed in airstrikes against Boko Haram positions by the Nigerian military, a claim disputed by Nigerian authorities.
The militant says the rest of the captives will never be released alive if his demands are not met.
The BBC interviewed another victim’s father, Samuel Yaga, and he confirmed his daughter Serah Samuel is one of the girls who appears in the video.
Both CNN and a Vanguard report from Nigeria say this video was released by a faction of Boko Haram that remains loyal to its original leader, Abubakar Shekau.
In fact, Vanguard’s sources believe Shekau is the masked militant who appears in the film. His dialogue transcribed by Vanguard in full, with all references to Allah changed to “God,” reads as follows:
We thank God for giving us the opportunity to send this message to the parents of these girls [pointing at the girls sitting behind him.]
It pleased God to let us have these girls in our captivity for over two years now. Our first message is to the parents of the girls to let them know that their daughters are still with us, some of them.
I also want to tell them to ask the Nigerian government to release our brethren, especially those in Maiduguri, Lagos, Abuja and other places across Nigeria. They should be released immediately.
You all knew that we had the girls, but God never allowed you to know their location and you will never know by God’s grace. You keep lying in your media that you will rescue them, they have been with us for over two years, yet you can’t even know where they are. You have just been lying about these girls, people should know that.
Also, for the over two years that we have been with these girls, about 40 of them are married, some are dead as a result of airstrike by infidels. We will show you a video of how your own aircraft dropped a bomb that killed some of these girls. Some of the girls have suffered fractures and other forms of injuries as a result of the air strikes.
As you can see, these are the girls, all we want is for you to release our brethren otherwise you will never get these girls God willing. This in short is our message to the Federal Government and the parents of the Chibok Girls.
As long as the government does not release our people, we will also never release these girls, that is our message. I specially informed our people in captivity in Lagos that they should be patient and continue with their prayers, God will take us to where no one expects and we will rescue them. All those in Lagos, Maiduguri and other southern parts of the country. Keep praying, very soon, we will rescue you.
Let me conclude this message by saying that many people have been coming to us lying that they were sent by the Nigerian government to get the girls released. Let the government and the whole world know that we have not sent anyone to negotiate with the government on our behalf over these girls. We have dealt with you in the past and you know our recommended negotiators. If you need to, you should talk to them. We don’t use our own people to negotiate with you, we use your own people such as journalists to talk with you. We have not sent any other persons. You know that we prefer to use journalists known to you.
Let me say again, release our people and we release your girls, otherwise, they will never be released. If you think you have the power to come and rescue them, go ahead and try.
President Buhari, your Army has been lying to you that they have finished us, let them try and see if they can rescue these girls alive.
The “forty married” comment is a reference to the girls who are thought to have been forcibly converted to Islam and “married” off to Boko Haram fighters. The BBC notes that one of the girls standing in the background of the video is holding a baby. Several others can be seen weeping as Maida Yakubu speaks.
The parting shot at President Buhari mocks the Nigerian military’s frequent statements that Boko Haram has been contained or crippled.
The masked militant’s comments about communicating with the Nigerian government through journalists might be alluding to Ahmed Salkida, who is currently wanted by the military for questioning in connection with two most recent Boko Haram videos.
According to a report at Punch, Salkida is currently out of the country — he is said to be based in Dubai — but claims he will soon travel to Nigeria to answer the summons. The Nigerian military is evidently convinced Salkida, and two others summoned for questioning, have information about where the Chibok girls are being held.
As CNN notes, Boko Haram announced a new leader last month, Abu Musab al-Barnawi. Shekau is thought to have released this video — and another several days ago, in which a threat to the lives of Nigeria’s president and several top military officers was made — as part of a power struggle against al-Barnawi.
“Reigniting public sympathy for the girls might be an attempt to force the government to listen. Boko Haram is attempting to paint the military campaign against the jihadists as a failure,” the BBC ventures.
Nigeria’s Daily Trust quotes military officials who stated their campaign against Boko Haram would continue, and the possible trade of terrorist prisoners for the Chibok girls is “a political decision to be taken.”