A few months ago I wrote a piece called: “Are Boko Haram’s female suicide bombers underpaid?” It was a response to a Newsweek headline that said: “Boko Haram paid would-be teenage suicide bomber ‘less than $1’.” (For those that never heard of Boko Haram, it’s a Nigerian-based Islamic terror organization.)
The Newsweek article featured a 14-year-old girl and her friend. These two were instructed by Boko Haram to detonate their explosive vests in a crowded place in the city. The two girls wore the vests for three days before entering the city. Once in the city, they were immediately spotted by the police, ordered to remove their explosive vests; the 14-year-old girl complied, but her friend refused and the police shot her dead.
During the police interrogation of the 14-year-old girl it was discovered that Boko Haram paid them for their suicide mission, and their payment of ‘less than $1’ was the “attention grabber” of Newsweek’s headline. I found the headline disturbing because the moral outrage centered on the low wage instead of the immorality of suicide bombing.
Recently, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point and Yale University released a study about Boko Haram. Their findings made me remember the anonymous girl in Newsweek’s story, the one that refused to remove her explosive vest. Her decision-making process should have been included in that story, because it would have revealed the psychological terror of being born the wrong gender in Boko Haram territory.
If you recall, the two teenage girls didn’t enter the city for three days.
What did they discuss? Did they compare their explosive vests? Did they exchange stories of being tortured and raped? Did they talk about their mothers? And if their mothers were dead, did they exchange those stories of death? Or did they just laugh at the irony of feeling free for the first time in their young lives right before they detonated themselves in a crowded place?