Female Suicide Bombers and the Chibok Girls Quagmire – By Alex O. Atawa Akpodiete*


A Muslim girl attends a Koranic school on Zanzibar island in Tanzania

It is quickly approaching four 94) months since over 250 teenage girls were abducted by the deadly terrorist group Boko Haram. The exact figure of the remaining girls seems to fluctuate after some supposedly escaped. Also, the hoopla over the failed visit of the parents of the girls to the presidency has simmered down as they eventually honoured the letter from President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR.


The past week has witnessed five explosions by four different female suicide bombers and one attempted explosion by a female suicide bomber. News reports had it in the last week of the month of July as follows: ”College students in the northern Nigerian city of Kano were reading a campus notice board, seeing what post-graduation public service job they would be assigned to, when a girl in their midst blew herself up. The horrific attack Wednesday at Kano State Polytechnic killed six people and injured at least seven others at the college. It was the fourth female suicide bombing in northern Nigeria since Sunday, when a 15-year-old blew herself up. Two others did the same on Monday, at a trade show and petrol station. In a separate incident, police arrested a 10-year-old girl wearing a suicide belt.”


Initially, terrorists wanted to shock the conscience of Nigerians by using a young bomb in the attempted killing of Sheik Bauchi in Kaduna. After that, they graduated to use of female suicide bombers, with the last being the 10-yr old girl that was arrested.


The history of suicide bombings go back to Ignaty Grinevitsky, who wrote in his diary the night before he killed himself and Russian Emperor Tsar Alexander II, on March 17 1881 “It is my lot to die young, I shall not see our victory, I shall not live one day, one hour in the bright season of our triumphs, but I believe that with my death I shall do all that it is my duty to do, and no one in the world can demand more of me.’


In recent times, we remember the Japanese kamikaze pilots of World War II. These pilots flew their planes into enemy territories knowing fully well that they will not return alive. The modern day suicide bombing where the bomber straps bombs to his body or carries it in his car that will be detonated with him inside, dates back to the Iran-Iraq war but has been perfected by the terrorist group Hamas. My research shows that “The origins of modern Istishhadi attacks lie among the Shia in Iran during the Iran–Iraq War of 1980–1988. Mohammed Hossein Fahmideh, a 13-year-old boy who fought in the war, is said to be the first Muslim to have participated in such an attack in contemporary history. He strapped rocket-propelled grenades to his chest and blew himself up under an Iraqi tank in November 1980. Ayatollah Khomeini declared Fahmideh a national hero.”


Assuming the bombings were for religious reasons, we understand that the male suicide bombers expect to get to heaven where twelve virgins will be waiting for them. What are the female suicide bombers expecting to receive in the afterlife? It cannot be twelve male virgins. This buttresses the point that these killings are not religiously motivated. Religion is just a warped excuse for their actions. My Muslims friends tell me that Islam does not sanction these heinous killings. In fact, suicide is prohibited under classic Islamic law. This explains why Islamic militants prefer the term “martyrdom operations” which is an amendment of Istishhadi, the Arabic word for “martyrdom” or heroic death. Since I am not an Islamic scholar, I referred to Scholars such as Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti, Ayatollah al-Udhma Yousof al-Sanei, Bernard Lewis and Noah Feldman who opine that “martyrdom in Islam typically refers to another person killing a Muslim warrior, not the warrior killing himself.” They all condemn suicide bombings. Yes, I am aware of those that promote it, but they apparently are in the minority.


Can an analogy be made with the Holy crusades of the Middle Ages sanctioned by Pope Claremont of the Roman Catholic Church, where supposed Christians engaged in the conquests of many nations under the cross or banner of Christianity? When Prophet Moses met with God at Mount Sinai, one of the Ten Commandments that God wrote on the two tablets of stones prohibited killing. (Ex. 31 & 34). Specifically, Christians and Jews are commanded that “You shall not murder.” (Ex. 20:13).


The aptness of the analogy is that born-again Christians will disavow any killings in name of Jesus Christ. We can comparatively look at Verse 4:29 of the Qur’an which states: “O you who believe! Do not consume your wealth in the wrong way-rather through trade mutually agreed to, and do not kill yourselves. Surely God is Merciful toward you.” Additionally, European Council for Fatwa and Research use the Quran’ic verse Al-Anam 6:151, which commands “And take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law.”


The twist to the female suicide bombers is the threat by the leader of Boko Haram that the abducted Chibok girls who were Christians have been forcibly converted to Islam. There is justifiable fear that the Chibok girls could be used as suicide bombers after their conversion as a way to further ensnare the President and propagate the views of these hate mongers. While some of us are optimistically hopeful about the fate of the abducted girls, we cannot help but remember the prognosis of the ex-president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and pray against it.


An international watch group headed by Henry Dodd has this to say about Nigeria in August 2013. “The next hotspots to emerge as centres for suicide violence may be Nigeria and Syria as the allure of suicide bombings appears to spread. The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram launched its first suicide bombing on 16 June 2011 when it attacked the police headquarters in Abuja. A few months later a bomber rammed his car into the UN building killing 23 people. Since then there have been at least 29 suicide attacks in northern Nigeria. “
Most deadly suicide attacks since 1981

Incident Date Number of people killed
1 Al-Qaeda attack on World Trade Centre and Pentagon 11/9/2001 2,955
2 Hezbollah bombing of US and French military bases in Lebanon 23/10/1983 320
3 Co-ordinated bombings of the Yazidi communities in Northern Iraq, masterminded by Al Qaeda 14/08/2007 250 (later revised to an estimated 500)
4 Al Qaeda attacks on Tanzanian and Kenyan embassies 07/08/1998 224
5 Bombings outside nightclubs in Bali carried out by Jemaah Islamiyah 12/10/2002 202

(Source:  University of Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism). Courtesy: Henry Dodd. http://aoav.org.uk/2013/a-short-history-of-suicide-bombings/. Retrieved 2014-08-04.


While the government is strategically planning the rescue of the Chibok girls with all deliberate speed, there is daily a renewed urgency to the situation. As I continue to argue, we need a combined effort to solve the insurgency problems facing our beloved Nigeria.


Think about it.


*Rev. Akpodiete, a public affairs analyst writes from Asaba. He is also an aspirant for Udu/Ughelli North/Ughelli South Federal Constituency in Delta State. Contact him on 08138391661 or Profatawa@gmail.com,




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