Boko Haram Wants to Swap Kidnapped Girls for Jailed Members


Members of civil society groups shout slogans to protest the abduction of Chibok school girls during a rally pressing for the girls' release in Abuja on May 6, 2014. AFP
Members of civil society groups shout slogans to protest the abduction of Chibok school girls during a rally pressing for the girls’ release in Abuja on May 6, 2014. AFP


Caravan Report 

DUBAI — Former Boko Haram negotiator, Shehu Sani has said the group plans to exchange the 300 kidnapped schoolgirls for its “comrades” in jails in Nigeria, media reported Friday.

Sani allegedly said that nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped last month in the country by Islamist militants could be released in exchange for its jailed comrades, the Nigerian Tribune reported.

He believed the video, in which Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau threatened to sell the girls as slaves, showed he was planning to use them as “bargaining chips”.

Sani said he believed the footage, released Monday, was an attempt to persuade the Nigerian government to release the Islamist militant prisoners.

An urgent international effort to help Nigeria find the kidnapped girls  is focused on providing intelligence as experts try to locate the hostages.

Amid global outrage over the kidnapping, the United States, France and Britain are sending specialist teams to Nigeria, which said London had agreed to deploy “satellite imaging capabilities.”

China promised to supply “any useful information acquired by its satellites and intelligence services,” according to President Goodluck Jonathan after talks with visiting Chinese premier Li Keqiang.

Outrage Across Muslim World

Meanwhile Islamic scholars and human rights officials of the world’s largest Muslim organization have denounced the mass kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by the militant group Boko Haram as “a gross misinterpretation of Islam.”

The statements from a research institute and human rights committee of the OIC echoed denunciations of the radical group by religious leaders and officials. “This crime and other crimes carried out by such extremist organizations negate all human principles and moral values and stand in contradiction to the clear teachings of the blessed Qur’an and the rightful examples set by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), ” the International Islamic Fiqh Academy said.

“The secretariat of the academy, shocked by this ugly act, strongly demands the immediate release of these innocent girls without causing any harm to any of them,” said a statement posted on the website of the academy in Jeddah.

The OIC’s human rights commission condemned “the barbaric act of abducting the innocent schoolgirls” and the “misguided claim of Boko Haram” that selling them as slaves was Islamic. This was “a gross misrepresentation of Islam,” it said.

Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, President of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, the umbrella body of Indian Muslim organizations, condemned organisations like Boko Haram in Nigeria and the “Islamic State in Iraq & Syria” (Da’ish) as terrorists and enemies of Islam and Muslims.

He said: “Such organisations are puppets in the hands of our enemies to blacken the name of Islam and Muslims. Islam does not allow kidnapping of innocents, and slaughtering and crucifying people. Authorities everywhere should eradicate such fascist expressions of hate and intolerance.” Dr Khan cautioned Indian Muslims to beware of elements trying to disseminate extremist ideas. Islam is an open and tolerant religion which does not force itself on others.

Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Nigeria’s umbrella group of Muslim organizations, denounced the kidnapping as an “act of barbarism” on April 16, shortly after it became known.


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