As awareness about the nearly 300 girls kidnapped from their secondary school in northeast Nigeria intensifies, the most unlikely of groups is speaking out against the actions of Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group responsible for the mass abduction.
Islamist militants from groups like Al-Qaeda are condemning the actions of Boko Haram, suggesting that the group took it too far when they kidnapped 276 young girls.
“Such news is spread to taint the image of the Mujahedeen,” wrote one dubious poster on a web forum used by Islamic militants whose administrator uses a picture of Osama bin Laden. “I have brothers from Africa who are in this group,” attested another, insisting that they were like “the Quran walking the earth.”
“There is news that they attacked a girls’ school!” another astonished poster wrote on the same jihadi forum, suggesting delicately that Boko Haram may perhaps be killing too many noncombatants instead of armed enemies. He prayed that God would “hold them steady to the path” of Islam.
According to the New York Times, Islamist groups have long distanced themselves from Boko Haram for their “senseless cruelty and capricious violence against civilians.” Some are even suggesting that the actions of other militant groups are far less severe than those of Boko Haram’s.
“The violence most of the African rebel groups practice makes Al Qaeda look like a bunch of schoolgirls,” said Bronwyn Bruton, an Africa scholar at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “And Al Qaeda at this point is a brand — and pretty much only a brand — so you have to ask yourself how they are going to deal with the people who are doing things so hideous even the leaders of Al Qaeda are unwilling to condone them.”
Meanwhile, news of Boko Haram’s latest casualties are igniting fear and frustration in northeast Nigeria. This week, 310 people were killed when members of the sect stormed a marketplace on Monday afternoon.
Witnesses described the Gamboru Ngala attack as a well-coordinated onslaught that began shortly after 1:30 p.m. Monday at a busy outdoor market in the town.
Wearing military uniforms, the militants arrived with three armored personnel carriers, villagers said.
The attackers shouted “Allahu Akbar” — “God is great” — and opened up on the market, firing rocket-propelled grenades into the crowd and tossing improvised explosive devices, witnesses said.
Some marketgoers tried to take shelter in shops only to be burned alive when the gunmen set fire to a number of the businesses, the witnesses said.
Following the attack and President Goodluck Jonathan’s inability to find the still missing 276 girls, the United States, Britain and China have promised to help Nigeria.
On Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama took to social media in a show of support, holding up a sign that donned the hashtag often used to raise awareness about the incident, #BringBackOurGirls:
She paired it with the caption: Our prayers are with the missing Nigerian girls and their families. It’s time to #BringBackOurGirls. -mo
Malala Yousafzai also spoke out against the actions of Boko Haram.
“Girls in Nigeria are my sisters, and it’s my responsibility that I speak up for my sisters,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Earlier this week, President Obama’s administration agreed to send a team to Nigeria to aid in the search. We’ll keep you updated with the latest.