Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is willing to make a proposition in exchange for the missing Nigerian schoolgirls.
The militant group has released footage of the kidnapped young women converting to Islam, wearing headscarves and praying. In the chilling video, Shekau says they’re willing to give back the 276 young women in exchange for their imprisoned partners.
One part of the video even shows a girl reciting an Islamic prayer.
According to the BBC, three girls speak in the video, including two who said they’ve converted to Islam from Christianity.
“These girls, these girls you occupy yourselves with… we have indeed liberated them. These girls have become Muslims,” Shekau said in the video. “We will never release them until after you release our brethren.”
The students were kidnapped on April 14 from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School after the militant group disguised themselves as police. Some were able to escape, including one student who ran through a snake-invested forest.
The news of the terrifying kidnapping was made public through social media and later by the mainstream media. Nigerian officials were reportedly aware of the kidnapping, but initially refused to do anything about it.
According to the AP, Nigerian officials also refused help in the harrowing matter because they wanted to try out strategies of their own before seeking help from allies. One father of two of the missing girls said that his girls were just a few miles away at the start of the kidnapping.
“For a good 11 days, our daughters were sitting in one place,” said Enoch Mark, the anguished father of two girls abducted from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School. “They camped them near Chibok, not more than 30 kilometers, and no help in hand. For a good 11 days.”
For two weeks after the kidnapping, President Goodluck Jonathan catered to other issues happening in Nigeria, but dismissed claims that he turned away help.
The following day, Jonathan was photographed dancing at a political party rally in northern Kano city, and newspapers asked what their leader was doing partying when the country was in shock over the kidnappings. The Defense Ministry also announced that all but eight of the kidnapped girls had been freed, quoting the school principal. When the principal objected and demanded the military produce the rescued girls, it retracted its statement.
With the United States, France, China and Britain involved in rescue efforts, we hope the video gives officials clues they can use to bring back our girls.