August 2, 2014

NIGERIA: Questions Over Emergence Of Female Islamist Suicide Bombers Recruited By Boko Haram Islamist Militants

Nigerian Tribune
written by Tinu Ayanniyi
Wednesday July 30, 2014

THE insurgent group operating in the country, Boko Haram, now appears to have changed strategy, using female suicide bombers, a new trend described as worrisome by Nigerians.

In the last one week, three females had been used by the insurgents as suicide bombers in Kano.

Also, in the attack against the All Progressives Congress (APC) leader and former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari, security operatives arrested a man, who disguised as woman in the attack.

Consequently, Nigerians are now raising posers over the new trend of female suicide bombers in the country.

Nigerians spoken to by Nigerian Tribune wondered why the insurgent group now targets teenage female suicide bombers.

They also raised posers on the identities of the girls, with some asking: “How are we sure they are not girls kidnapped long ago?”

President Goodluck Jonathan, while condemning the situation on Monday, said the “deployment of young women as suicide bombers represents a new low in the inhuman campaign by the terrorists and an expression of utter disregard for the dignity of the female gender, as well as a wicked exploitation of the girl-child.”

For former minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, on her Twitter handle, “this new trend and serial pattern of female suicide bombers surely should particularly worry us. It worries me stiff because of our Chibok girls.

“Kano again and again. Female suicide bombers again and again - becoming trend. Our Chibok girls still in the enemy den. Are we thinking?”

A human rights group called on the Federal Government to conduct comprehensive forensic test of the corpses of the dead bombers, to ascertain their DNAs and also to clear the disturbing insinuations that they may actually be the schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno State, by the armed Islamic terrorists.

The Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) wanted the Federal Government to seek the relevant technical and scientific assistance from friendly nations, who had volunteered to join it to achieve counter-insurgency strategies, so as to unravel the identities of the female bombers.

In a statement to the media, through its national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the national media affairs director, Zainab Yusuf, it said it was imperative that experts were involved in the investigation of the origin of female bombers.

This, the group said, was to disabuse the minds of observers already insinuating that the female bombers may be from the kidnapped schoolgirls, who might have been hypnotised.

The organisation said “now that the armed insurgents are incessantly using alleged female bombers to unleash devastating violence on soft targets, the Nigerian government must probe the origin of these female suicide bombers, even as the Federal Ministry of Information and respective ministries of information in the North must immediately begin sensitisation campaign, to dissuade innocent girls from being lured and hypnotised into embarking on the satanic errands of detonating high calibre explosives.

“In the event that these female suicide bombers are identified to have been the same kidnapped girls, then the government should immediately deploy all resources and strategies to bring to an end, once and for all, this shameful scenario, since the military have repeatedly stated that they are aware of the whereabouts of the kidnaped Chibok girls,” the organisation said.

All over the social media, while Nigerians expressed apprehension over who the female bombers could be, they also continued to ask security operatives how they knew the age of the girls.

Female bombers have sprung up all over Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Israel.

In a culture where the glorification of the fallen is embraced, mothers seem to be pushing their children to die as martyrs for the name of Allah.

Reports have it that while using female suicide bombers is a relatively new trend, the female bombers had become particularly frequent among Muslim terror groups and are responsible for an estimated 30 per cent of the recent trend of Islamic suicide bombings.

One of the earliest female suicide bombers was in Lebanon in April 1985. Sana’a Youcef Mehaidli, 16-year-old member of the secular Syrian Social Nationalist Party, drove an explosives-laden truck into an Israeli Defence Force convoy, killing two soldiers and injuring one other.

The May 21, 1991 assassination of Indian’s former Prime Minister, Rajiv Ghandi, was attributed to female suicide bomber, Thenmuli Rajatnam, member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Fourteen others were also killed during the attack.

On January 27, 2002, Wafa Idris became the first Palestinian woman to perpetrate an act of suicide terror, detonating a backpack filled with explosives in a downtown shopping district, killing one elderly Israeli man and wounding more than 100 others.

The 2002 Nord-Ost Theatre siege in Moscow, lasting from October 23 to 26, resulted in the deaths of over 170 people, including 133 hostages and all 41 attackers. Nineteen of the attackers (practically half) were females.

On January 14, 2004, 22-year-old Palestinian Reem al-Reyashi killed four Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint, during a suicide bombing attack, leaving behind a husband, a three-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter.

Four females were involved in the 2004 Beslan Elementary School tragedy in Russia, which lasted from September 1 to 3, resulted in, at least, 385 deaths, including 186 children, and 783 injured.

Posing as the pregnant wife of a soldier on her way to the maternity clinic, on April 26, 2006, Kanapathipillai Manjula Devi penetrated a military hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka and detonated her explosives.

Revealing her tactical prowess, she even visited the maternity clinic several weeks prior to her attack, to maintain her cover.

Much media attention was focused on Al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri’s September 2013 call for small scale “lone wolf” attacks in the United States.

Yet, other than in scholarly writings, little awareness was made of Umayma al-Zawahiri, wife of al-Zawahiri and her 2009 open letter, calling on women to join terrorist organisations as suicide bombers.

Terrorist groups that had publicised their use of females include the Syrian Socialist National Party (SSNP/PPS), the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Chechen rebels, Al Aqsa Martyrs, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and, most recently, Hamas.

Reports are that Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a Hamas spiritual leader, earlier denounced the use of female suicide bombers “for reasons of modesty,” but by 2004, changed his position.

He cited the use of female suicide bombers as “a significant evolution in our fight. The male fighters face many challenges… women are like the reserve army, when there is a necessity, we use them.”

Magnus Ranstrop, director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, was quoted as touting female suicide bombers as “the ultimate weapon… you can assimilate among the people and attack with an element of surprise that has an incredible and devastating shock value.”

As one commander in charge of training female suicide bombers was quoted, “the body has become our most potent weapon. When we searched for new ways to resist the security complications facing us, we discovered that our women could be an advantage.”

Among the obvious advantages for terrorists’ use of female suicide bombers include tactical advantage, especially as element of surprise and the belief that females are non-violent.

Attacks by women receive eight times the media coverage as attacks by men.

Such coverage tends to garner sympathy for not only the victims, but the female attackers as well.

Terrorist use this sympathy in deploying female suicide bombers, knowing that it would not only assist in recruiting efforts, but gained sympathy for their efforts among the general public.

Female suicide bombers are enemies of the state —Bakare•Using females as bombers unfortunate —Odumakin
Bola Badmus and Chukwuma Okparaocha - Lagos

THE General Overseer of Latter Rain Assembly and convener of the Save Nigeria Group, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has described as enemies of the state, all suicide bombers wreaking havoc in the country.

Speaking in a telephone chat with the Nigerian Tribune, Pastor Bakare, commenting on the rising spate of female suicide bombings in the country, said those involved in such acts were victims of wrong indoctrination.

He added that “they’ve been indoctrinated to wreak havoc and that is exactly what they are doing. There is no logical explanation to explain what these people (both female and male bombers) are doing, but let it be known that terrorism under any guise is not in any religion, they (terrorists) merely hide under the guise of religion to do what they do.”

The employment of young female as suicide bombers by the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents has been described as highly unfortunate, in the sense that women are considered to be mothers and more compassionate.

Spokesman of Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, in his reaction, said the occurrence, as witnessed recently in Kano, had shown a new dimension in terrorist attacks in the country.

According to Odumakin, the radicalisation of young girls by Boko Haram sect was to divert attention.

, but quickly added that no matter the approach, the war against terror would be won by the government and Nigerians.

Odumakin, who said the war against terrorism was not a conventional war, maintained that “the battle is not lost, the war would be won soon, with strong determination.”

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