BRING BACK OUR GIRLS!

Boko Haram Terrorists Hooked on the Jihadist Drug of Choice: Viagra

Kidnapping girls and raping them many times a day is standard practice for the young men recruited to Boko Haram, as are the drugs help to keep them going.

CALABAR, Nigeria — Every time the Nigerian military raids Boko Haram hideouts in northeast Nigeria, soldiers report intriguing stockpiles quite apart from the predictable guns, bombs, and machetes. Often these include magical amulets and trinkets, and, frequently, quantities of Viagra and similar sex-enhancing pharmaceuticals.

There is a reason for the obsession with erectile function, and it is common to most of the extreme jihadist movements, especially those, like Boko Haram, that have pledged allegiance to the so-called caliphate that claims the name “Islamic State”: the promise of sex is a great recruiting tool, and sexual prowess is deemed to have mystical powers.

Thus in Iraq, ISIS has a record of enslaving women and girls deemed “non-believers,” then handing them over to the not-so-tender ministrations of men with years of pent-up frustrations. In Nigeria, Boko Haram has made the kidnapping of young women, like the girls taken from Chibok school two years ago, almost a trademark of its movement. Such practices, from the jihadist point of view, have a couple of benefits. They sow terror at the same time they attract young men to jihadist ranks.

But we have to be careful here. The jihadists’ enemies are forever claiming they are sex-mad monsters more interested in concubines than the Quran.

“When the military captured their bases and training camps, they never found Quran or other Islamic books,” Nigerian army spokesman Sani Usman said in a statement released last September after a number of camps were raided. “What they found were ammunition, local charms, condoms and all sort of drugs including sex enhancing ones in their enclaves.”

In fact, independent analysts confirm this general picture. The talismans, according to a non-military source, are not in the least Islamic, and they have a special purpose: “When the girls aren’t scared of dying even with a gun pointed at them, the militants use local charms to hypnotize and lure them,” said Yusuf Mohammed, a respected Arabic scholar and community organizer in the northeastern town of Maiduguri who also assists the city’s main vigilante group, the Civilian Joint Task Force, in intelligence gathering. “And because they sleep with so many girls in a day, they are forced to depend on sex enhancing drugs so as to last long in the act, and a condom when they suspect a woman has sexually transmitted disease.”

Figures certainly seem to show that Boko Haram militants have a huge appetite for sex. A report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released early this year estimates more than 2,000 girls have been abducted since the jihadist group began its uprising in the northeast over six years ago. Other estimates put the number at 7,000, with the presumption that many if not all of them are used as sex slaves.

A number of these girls have become pregnant in captivity and some have contracted sexually transmitted diseases. Many have been raped repeatedly and relentlessly.

Asabe Aliyu was about 23 years of age when she was abducted in 2014 by Boko Haram militants from Delsak, a village near Chibok in the northeast. The mother of four children was taken to the jihadist’s stronghold in the remote Sambisa forest where she was sexually assaulted day after day by different men and forced into marrying one of the militants.

“They turned me into a sex machine. They took turns to sleep with me,” she told Daily Times, a Nigerian newspaper. “Now I am pregnant and I cannot identify the father.”

A number of other girls have told stories of how they were raped and violated almost on a daily basis by the same unit of militants in Sambisa forest. Some of the victims are as young as 8.

“Some victims have said the militants usually discuss among themselves the number of girls they’ll sleep with in a day,” said Yusuf Mohammed, who has interviewed and counseled a number of Boko Haram victims in Maiduguri. “The aim is so that they’ll be able to impregnate as many girls as possible and bear children who will continue in the jihad.”

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Last year, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, told reporters that the urge to bear kids is driven by Boko Haram’s superstitious believe that their children will take after their cause.

“These people have a certain spiritual conviction that any child they father will grow to inherit their ideology whether they live with the children or not,” Shettima said. “The sect leaders make very conscious effort to impregnate the women.”

To fulfill this macho obligation, jihadists turn to performance enhancing medications. The army announced as recently as Friday that it recovered “sex enhancing drugs such as Viagra” from some militants as they tried to flee Sambisa forest on Thursday.

Viagra and similar drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction work only with sexual stimulation and do not increase the desire for sex. But the fact that they could maintain an erection for up to five hours (a health hazard warned against on the package) is what Boko Haram militants find so appealing.

A victim of Boko Haram’s sexual violence once told me that the jihadists love to boast among themselves about their sexual stamina, and that they bet on who will last the longest in having sex.

“Anyone who has sex for the longest hours wins whatever bet has been placed,” she said. “They take whichever girl they want and they can have sex for hours.”

In March, the government of Borno state, announced the closure of cattle markets in the capital city because agents working for Boko Haram sold cattle stolen by jihadists from neighboring villages in these markets and used the proceeds to buy food and drugs for the militants.

Local vigilantes and security officials have identified sex enhancing drugs as the medicines these agents most commonly buy from retail pharmaceutical stores.

“About five people were arrested by the military and they confessed to buying these drugs for the militants,” Yusuf Mohammed said. “They use proceeds from the stolen cattle they sell to buy these medicines.”

With the number of girls Boko Haram has abducted, it is clear what the jihadists intend to achieve: to punish as many girls as possible through rape, and father as many children as they can by impregnating them.

“The more girls they kidnap, the more sex enhancing drugs they’ll need,” Yusuf Mohammed said. “These militants just want sex with every girl in their custody.”