Surviving Boko Haram: 14 Things We Learned From The Teen Girls Who Shared Their Terrifying Stories


Rachaell Davis Oct, 26, 2017

It’s been over 3 years since Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram abducted 276 school girls from Northeastern Nigerian and forced them to become child brides, suicide bombers or both. The New York Times recently spoke with 18 of the young girls who survived the terrifying ordeal to get their stories first hand. Scroll through to read 14 things we learned from their brave recounts, which you can read in full HERE.

1 of 14 CNN

This year, Boko Haram militants have executed nearly twice as many suicide bomber missions as they did in 2016. UNICEF found that over 110 children — including 76 of them young girls—have been used in suicide bombings since January of this year.

2 of 14 PHILIP OJISUA/Getty Images

Many of the girls captured said their parents or other family members were killed by Boko Haram during their capture for refusing to hand them over willingly.

3 of 14 Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Some citizens of Northeastern Nigeria have admitted becoming overtly cautious when they encounter young girls, automatically questioning whether or not they could be suicide bombers sent by Boko Haram.

4 of 14 PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/Getty Images

According to UN reports, at least 13 children under the age of 18 were killed after being mistaken for suicide bombers by civilians or military in 2016.

5 of 14 Peter Kum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

15-year-old Aisha shared that she was given the ultimatum of either agreeing to having sex with multiple members of Boko Haram, or be forced into becoming a suicide bomber.

6 of 14 PHILIP OJISUA/Getty Images

Aisha also recalled seeing Boko Haram terrorists strap a suicide bomb to her 10-year-old brother's waist and riding off with him on a motorbike after killing their father. They later returned without him, celebrating the fact that he had been used to blow up soldiers at local barracks.

7 of 14 PHILIP OJISUA/AFP/Getty Images

16-year-old Hadiza says she remembers devising a plan to find an isolated area to detonate the bomb strapped to her waist in order to avoid killing anyone, despite knowing that she herself would be killed in the process.

8 of 14 Sodiq Adelakun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Another girl remembered being instructed to go to a mosque with the bomb strapped to her body and blow up worshippers. She was able to escape to safety when she spotted a relative in the crowd along the way who helped her.

9 of 14 PHILIP OJISUA/Getty Images

Several girls said civilians listened when they would approach them for help initially, but said most ran away after learning about the bomb strapped to their bodies and some even threatened to harm the girls if they continued to follow.

10 of 14 Militant video/Site Institute via AP File

13-year-old Nana says the Boko Haram terrorists brought her a belt equipped with a bomb, told her to put it on, and showed her a button to press to set it off when the time came.

11 of 14 PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

17-year-old Fatima recalled approaching soldiers with her hands up, reassuring them that she was forced into Boko Haram and not a willing participant. After begging them to help her, they were able to safely remove the bomb strapped to her body.

12 of 14 Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Some young women shared that they go the extra mile to ensure that their clothes are clean and their appearances aren't unkempt in order to avoid being mistaken for suicide bombers.

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Some of the surviving girls captured by Boko Haram found themselves homeless and without family following their escape, due to their immediate families being killed or captured as well during the initial kidnapping.

14 of 14 RAJESH JANTILAL/Getty Images

Despite their horrific experiences, many of the surviving girls captured by Boko Haram say they still "value their religion" and do not believe that Islam as a whole is supportive of suicide bombers.