The Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram killed a Muslim aid worker with connections to the International Committee of the Red Cross earlier this month after kidnapping her in March.
According to International Christian Concern, a group that tracks religious persecution around the world and was the first to report on this latest attack, Saifura Khorsa was brutally executed earlier this week.
“It’s not a great sign for the state of Nigeria right now that they are killing aid workers,” Nathan Johnson, regional manager for Africa at ICC, told Faithwire. “When they kidnapped people before, especially Muslim women, they had not killed them because they saw it as disrespectful to their faith.”
The fact that members of Boko Haram are now, apparently, willing to murder those who adhere to the Islamic faith shows the terror cell is “either desperate right now and they really need the ransom or the Nigerian government or military to move out of their way or because they feel like they have the power,” Johnson explained, noting neither possibility is better than the other.
Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, rebuked Boko Haram for killing Khorsa.
“The government of Nigeria strongly condemns this reprehensible and inhuman act. No religion permits the killing of the innocent,” said Garba Shehu, who serves as Buhari’s senior special assistant on media and publicity. “Saifura worked for the Red Cross, a humanitarian organization, tirelessly working to bring succor to all the victims of violence, irrespective of the sides of the conflict.”
Johnson admitted the Nigerian military “is trying to fight” against Boko Haram and “has had some success” at doing so, but noted he’s most concerned about a teenage girl named Leah Sharibu, who is a Christian and was one of the schoolgirls kidnapped from Dapchi by the group of jihadists on Feb. 19.
Of the 110 girls abducted, Sharibu is the only student who remains a captive of Boko Haram.
“The only one still in captivity today is Christian,” Johnson said, “and for some reason, President Buhari and the Nigerian government were able to get that 104 [schoolgirls] released — in some way, ransom, whatever it was — but they haven’t been able to get Leah Sharibu released in 10-times the amount of time.”
The ICC official went on to say the scenario makes it difficult for him to fully trust the Nigerian government or its president. For Sharibu, he said, “something’s not happening the way it should.”
President Donald Trump, for his part, pledged earlier this year to support the Nigerian government in its fight against Boko Haram. After announcing selling U.S. warplanes to the African country, Trump said, “These new aircraft will improve Nigeria’s ability to target terrorists and protect civilians.”
Around the same time, Trump clearly condemned the persecution of Christians in the Muslim-majority country, declaring, “We’ve had very serious problems with Christians who have been murdered, killed in Nigeria. We’re going to be working on that problem and working on that problem very, very hard because we can’t allow that to happen.”
Johnson said he was “very glad” Trump spoke out against the violence Christians are facing in Nigeria, noting previous administrations had shied away from using such direct verbiage.
“I think there is more that could be done,” he continued. “People just need to understand they can reach out to their own representatives, and if they raise an issue with their representatives, that will have a role to play in further steps taken for ending Christian persecution.”