UPDATED 5/12/14, 10:23 P.M. EST: Nigerian Interior Minister Abba Moro has refused to give in to Boko Haram‘s demands to exchange imprisoned terrorists for the missing school girls, according to the BBC.
Initially, when Boko Haram’s second video hit the news, the Nigerian government said that they would “continue to explore all options for the release and safe return of our girls.” Later Monday night, though, Moro made Nigeria’s official position known, “As far as this government is concerned, the option of [the] swap of innocent citizens with people who have taken arms against the country…is not on the table.”
With this latest news, It is unclear what Boko Haram will do next.
On Monday, Boko Haram released another video, showing the missing schoolgirls of Borno State, Nigeria, praying and reciting the Koran. Now, the terrorist group is demanding the release of its imprisoned members in exchange for the schoolgirls.
In the 17-minute video that was initially sent to Agence France-Presse, more than 100 schoolgirls are seen fully veiled in hijabs and praying. At one point, the girls begin to recite “Al-Fatiha,” which is the first chapter of the Koran, in Arabic. “Al-Fatiha is typically taught to new converts.
Shortly after, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau appears and begins making his demands known, saying, “These girls have become Muslims. We will never release them until after you release our brethren.”
Watch Abubakar Shekau make his demands here:
Shekau’s demands to free fellow Boko Haram rebels are in concert with their recent activities. Last week, Face2Face Africa reported on the group crossing in to Cameroon in order to free one of their members.
Unfortunately, their rogue mission proved successful.
On May 7th at 2 a.m., more than 30 suspected members of Boko Haram, who were very heavily armed, attacked the Territorial Brigade Post of the Cameroonian Gendarmerie, killing a chief warrant officer on duty and freeing one of their members who was in custody.
The imprisoned Boko Haram member was arrested Saturday with arms in a 405 Peagout car.
Counter-terrorism analyst Michael Leiter echoed similar sentiments when talking with NBC News, saying, “This is consistent with the group’s goals.”
Leiter went on to say, though, that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan would likely refuse to meet Boko Haram’s demands, “My sense is that President Goodluck Jonathan is not someone who is interested in negotiation with Boko Haram. Given the level of aggression that the Nigerian government has used when countering Boko Haram, I don’t think any [prisoner] release is forthcoming.”
On Sunday night, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima told the press that the missing girls had indeed been sighted. Shettima also explained that their next steps included having the military follow up on their leads.
Leiter explained, however, that just because the video proves that the many of the girls are indeed alive, it doesn’t make eventual rescue attempts any easier, “A rescue is always going to be very, very difficult. This is an extremely remote area and the Nigerians have not in the past taken a lot of assistance from the United States so the fact they are in one group makes it more possible but I wouldn’t underplay how hard it would be for either the Nigerians alone or even with U.S. assistance.”