Boko Haram, the Nigeria-based Islamic terrorist group, has reportedly deployed more women as suicide bombers than any other terror group in history.
According to a report, entitled “Exploding Stereotypes: The Unexpected Operational and Demographic Characteristics of Boko Haram’s Suicide Bombers,” researchers at West Point military academy in the United States said over half of the more than 400 suicide attacks carried out by the group since 2011 involved the use of women and young girls — some as young as 7.
The researchers contend that Boko Haram deployed 244 female suicide bombers between April 2011 and June 2017, emphasizing that the group had now deployed the most female suicide bombers in the history of insurgencies, dwarfing the record established by the Tamil Tigers, who used 44 female suicide bombers over a 10-year period.
Boko Haram’s attacks have centered around its stronghold in northeastern Nigeria, but it has also spread out in recent times along the Lake Chad Basin, where Nigeria borders Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.
The group launched its first coordinated suicide attack in 2011, but it was not until 2014 that it began to deploy women as suicide bombers.
The researchers believe that the global outrage sparked by the abduction of the “Chibok-Girls” that year encouraged the group to begin to use women as suicide bombers for maximum shock value.
Women and young girls also have the added advantage of arousing less suspicion than men and bombs are easy to conceal under the billowy folds of material worn by conservative women, while pregnant women and nursing Mothers are almost never considered a security threat.
Boko Haram typically deploys female suicide bombers to strike public places such as markets, mosques, and makeshift camps, where people are gathered in a crowd. As of June, the group had already deployed more than 80 female suicide bombers, many of them girls.