Mass Trials of Over 6,600 Boko Haram Suspects Accused of Slaughtering Christians and Children Begin

The United Nations Children’s Fund reported on some of Boko Haram’s most disturbing practices in August, when it warned that there has been an alarming rise in the number of children being used as “human bombs” in attacks.

(PHOTO: EMMANUEL BRAUN/REUTERS)Nigerian soldiers hold up a Boko Haram flag that they had seized in the retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 18, 2015.

The mass trials of over 6,600 suspects believed to be members of Islamic radical group Boko Haram have begun in Nigeria, and are being carried out in secret by civilian court judges at a military facility in Kainji town.

As BBC News reported, close to 20,000 people have been slaughtered in Boko Haram’s insurgency in the country, which began in 2009.

The terror group has slaughtered Christians, Muslims, children, and many other civilians in their war against the government, with a driven mission to eradicate Christianity from the country.

Up to 1,670 people suspected of being part of the terror group are being tried in the coming weeks, with another 5,000 people awaiting trial after that.

The Nigerian army said that the terrorists have lost significant ground in the country over the past year, with kidnapping victims, such as the Chibok Christian girls who were taken in April 2014, finally being rescued.

Some human rights advocates have warned that the secrecy of the trials could undermine efforts for justice, however.  

“Does the judiciary have the capacity to give so many people charged with very serious offences a fair trial? Have the authorities really captured a quarter of their combat strength? Are they taking into account the fact that a lot of those who committed violence for Boko Haram did so under duress? All these are red flags and very concerning in terms of the broader strategy,” said Ryan Cummings, a South Africa-based expert, according to The Guardian.

Only 13 Boko Haram suspects to date have been put on trial, official figures have said, with nine convicted of aiding the Islamic radicals.

Christian groups have long called for Boko Haram members to be brought to justice.

Laolu Akande, then the executive director of the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, told The Christian Post following the 2014 Chibok girls kidnapping:

Boko Haram has been kidnapping little girls who are Christians, trying to turn them into sex slaves, trying to convert them by force. Their strategy is to marry the girls and kill the men. So what they have done by kidnapping these female students, it is another demonstration of the impunity with which Boko Haram has been running its terrorist activities.

“We are just totally, completely appalled that the Nigerian federal government continues to show itself totally incompetent to bring these people to justice and to halt these very pernicious, despicable activities.”

The United Nations Children’s Fund reported on some of Boko Haram’s most disturbing practices in August, when it warned that there has been an alarming rise in the number of children being used as “human bombs” in attacks.

“Children have been used repeatedly in this way over the last few years and so far this year, the number of children used is already four times higher than it was for all of last year,”

UNICEF said in a statement.

“Since Jan. 1, 83 children have been used as ‘human bombs’; 55 were girls, most often younger than 15 years old; 27 were boys, and one was a baby strapped to a girl,” it added.

“The use of children in this way is an atrocity.”

[written by Stoyan Zaimov]

WHERE WAS GOD IN THE LAS VEGAS SHOOTING? ‘HEAVEN IS FOR REAL’ AUTHOR TODD BURPO RESPONDS (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)

“We don’t let teachers pray anymore, we’ve stopped going to church and praying with our families at home. But what we do have is video games that promote violence that have replaced Bible time. Instead of listening to sermons, people turn on the news, where we see violence and terrorism. Gradually, then, our whole society has adjusted to this darkness…” -Todd Burpo

 In an exclusive interview with The Gospel Herald, “Heaven is for Real” author Todd Burpo answers some serious questions about God’s presence amid tragedy. (Photo: Reuters/via Gospel Herald)

From Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to the devastating Las Vegas massacre, it seems like no more than a week goes by before some kind of tragedy rocks the United States.

For many of us who follow Christ, these tumultuous times raise serious questions: “Why does God allow tragedy?” and “Is God trying to tell us something?”

Rev. Todd Burpo, author of the New York Times bestseller “Heaven is for Real,” addresses such questions in his latest book, “God is for Real: And He Longs to Answer Your Most Difficult Questions.”

“With the shooting that happened in Vegas, the world is stunned by it, they’re fixated on it,” he told The Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview. “One of the things that we can’t deny is that there’s evil in this world. Some people’s hearts are just full of evil, and can we do something about that? We, as a country, need to be honest about our adjustment to darkness and how we need the light of Jesus Christ.”

Burpo explained that in this country, prayer has all but been eliminated—both publicly and privately.

“We don’t let teachers pray anymore, we’ve stopped going to church and praying with our families at home,” he said. “But what we do have is video games that promote violence that have replaced Bible time. Instead of listening to sermons, people turn on the news, where we see violence and terrorism. Gradually, then, our whole society has adjusted to this darkness.”

Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter who killed 59 and injured hundreds at the Route 91 Festival, succumbed to this darkness, Burpo said.  

“People are trying to figure out what went on in his mind, but I would say that something terrible in his life happened where he blamed God for it,” the pastor said. “That might have been a tipping point for him, but gradually, God didn’t matter to him anymore. When you take light [out] of your life and all you have is darkness left, people [become] capable of committing these atrocities.” 

It’s important to remember that God is present in even the most devastating of tragedies, Burpo said.

“What I’ve found in those hard places, in those hard times, is that people want to pray,” he said. “I think in church, as pastor, we have neat and tidy services, and you ask people to pray, and people say they don’t feel comfortable. But when you’re out there next to the scene of an accident, everyone’s ready to pray. God is present to help in those times and in those places.”

Burpo pointed to Mark 4:35-41, where Jesus calms the storm.

“The disciples—these seasoned fisherman—are in the boat with Jesus during this terrible storm, and He’s sleeping,” he recounted. “The disciples, who are terrified of drowning, ask, ‘Why are you resting? Don’t you care?’ I think we’ve all asked these questions in scary times.”

In response, Jesus asked the disciples, “Where is your faith?”

[written byLeah Marieann Klett ]

 

CHRISTIAN ANALYST: YOU CAN CONDEMN JEWS BUT NOT JIHADISTS?

“Offend the sensibilities of Islamists and you might get killed,” says CAMERA’s Van Zile.

Christians’ condemnation of Israel – and not jihad – have turned themselves into dhimmis, non-Muslims who have already submitted to Muslim rule, a Christian media analyst said. Writing for the Gatestone Institute in an essay titled “Jihadism: The fear that dare not speak its name,” Dexter Van Zile, the Christian media analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), said that although Christian groups occasionally blame the perpetrators of violence and terrorism, such as the Assad regime, Islamic State and Boko Haram in West Africa, it is never nearly close to the way they blame Israel.  “Yes, they issue condemnations, but their statements are lamentations that really do not approach in ferocity the ugly denunciations these institutions target at Israel,” he said.

Van Zile said the root of the issue is knowing that Israel and the Jewish people do not react the same way that the extreme, jihadi terrorists act.

“One source of the problem is that it is simply a lot easier and safer to speak out about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians than it is to confront the violence against Christians in the rest of the Middle East,” he said.  Israel has been allowing the entry of boycott supporters and detractors of the state, and only during the summer did the government begin preventing these activists from entering the country. Never did Israel do what other Middle East countries – and much more so terrorist groups – did to their critics.

“If you fly to Israel, you can participate in a protest against the IDF at the security barrier in the morning and be eating in a nice restaurant in Tel Aviv that afternoon without having to worry about getting shot,” he said. “Protesting against ISIS or the misdeeds of the Iranian government, which puts Westerners in jail, is another, rather more courageous, thing altogether.”

Van Zile said that one of the worst responses an attacker of Israel may get is a letter from his organization.

“Another factor is fear – fear of Islam. The threat of violence that comes with confronting the impact of Sharia law and jihadism on human rights and national security has been significant, but it has remained doggedly unstated in the witness of churches in the United States,” he said. “Condemn Israel unfairly or engage in Jew-baiting and you get a letter from CAMERA, the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] or the local board of rabbis. Offend the sensibilities of jihadists and you might get killed.”  Van Zile traced the Presbyterian Church USA’s anti-Zionist platform back to the election of Benjamin Weir, a former missionary who was kidnapped by Hezbollah in Lebanon, who had a significant influence on the church’s proceedings. Upon his release, while he did criticize Hezbollah, he used American support for Israel as his punching bag.

“Israel was a safe target for the rage he felt over being kidnapped and having a year of his life stolen from him,” Van Zile said. “The jihadists who kidnapped him were not a safe target.”

The analyst said that now is the time for Christians to speak out.

“In this time of trial, during which the very foundations of our moral and intellectual order are under assault, it is time we find our voice to address this problem while we still can.”

[written by BY BENJAMIN GLATT]