12/22/2014 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – Late Saturday evening, international journalists received a video from members of the Boko Haram insurgency depicting the execution of around 100 non-Muslims in a dormitory-style hall reportedly located in Bama, a remote town in northeast Nigeria. A previous video released by the insurgency declaring the establishment of its Islamic caliphate depicted the execution of dozens of civilians laid face-down in a mass grave dug in former Christian stronghold, Gwoza. Saturday’s release went above and beyond previous Boko Haram productions, paralleling the barbarism of videos issued by the Islamic State in Iraq. The number of dead remains unconfirmed as additional reports from Bama (only 40 miles north of Gwoza) continue to make their way to international press outlets.
Set to music, the 11-minute video depicts Boko Haram militants, some dressed in camouflage, others in flannel and jeans, loading fresh magazines into AK-47s before filing into a long, dormitory-style hall filled with “infidels” (or non-Muslims) curled against one another on the floor. Upon entering, some of the men depicted begin to indiscriminately shoot at the bodies covering the floor before targeting those that move in response to the gunfire. The victims’ cries, heard between the gunshots, are drowned out by young men chanting, “Allahu Akbar” (or “Allah is Great”) while peering in on the massacre through the hall’s barred windows.
While it remains unclear how many of the victims were professed Christians, the film’s speaker states, “We have made sure the floor of this hall is turned red with blood, and this is how it is going to be in all future attacks and arrests of infidels (or non-Muslims).” The speaker continued, saying, “From now, killing, slaughtering, destruction and bombing will be our religious duty anywhere we invade.”
The mass execution follows the insurgency’s abduction of an estimated 185 women and children following the massacre of dozens of villagers in Gumsuri village on December 14. Eyewitnesses of the attack reported 33 villagers killed by Boko Haram militants shouting, “Allahu Akbar.” News of the attack and mass kidnapping was released to international press Thursday after survivors made the several-day journey to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno, Nigeria’s most northeastern state and birthplace to the Boko Haram insurgency.
Established in the 1990s as a peaceful separatist movement by Mohammed Yousef, Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (or “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teaching and Jihad”), commonly referred to as Boko Haram, became a radicalized and violent Sunni Jihadi insurgency in 2009 when Abubakar Shekau assumed leadership.
A video released by the insurgency earlier this year depicted Shekau-thought to have been killed by Nigerian security forces last year-promising to sell more than 270 mostly Christian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants in April “on the market.” More than eight months following their abduction, 220 girls remain missing and are suspected of having been forcibly converted to Islam and sold into lifetimes of sexual and domestic slavery as child brides to their militant captors for as little as $12 USD.
Open Doors’ World Watch List ranked Nigeria the most dangerous country in the world for Christians to reside in 2013. Since its radicalization in 2009, Nigerian Christians have been all but eradicated from the country’s northeast by Boko Haram. Responsible for the deaths of more than 14,000 Nigerians since 2009, Boko Haram has single handedly killed an estimated 1,800 Christians this year alone.
ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, said, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of this inexcusable atrocity. Militants, armed with AK-47s and a perverted theology of violence and bloodshed, have decimated community after community on their rampage across Nigeria’s northeast. Boko Haram has laid waste to the Nigerian church, slaughtering believers for their refusal to convert to Islam, abducting and enslaving schoolgirls for their Christian faith, and murdering pastors for preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. The insurgency can and must be eliminated before its caliphate spreads, claiming innocent lives with each and every advance.”