They Ordered Her to Be a Suicide Bomber. She Had Another Idea.

Hundreds of women in Nigeria have been recruited by Boko Haram as suicide bombers, but some managed to outsmart the terrorist group. This is one woman’s story.

Comments: 73

  1. Oh, these brave souls! It is unimaginable what they have been through at the hands of the men in this depraved group.

  2. I cannot imagine the horror they have been put through or the bravery it took for them to survive.

  3. Yes, evil continues to walk the earth - in the form of Boko Haram. And Ms. Mohammed courageously stood up to the evil staring right at her and outwitted them all! Blessings, Ms. Mohammed.

  4. An absolutely brave, brave woman whose praises should be heralded from the skies, but alas is treated with scorn and suspicion. What a shame. In any event, please accept my praise and know that you are more brave than I could ever hope to be not only in your actions against Boko Haram, but also against your despicable neighbors who apparently know nothing about the world outside their immediate their family and circle of friends. May you be blessed the remainder of your life.

  5. I hope some benefactors find a way to help Mrs. Mohammed and the other women who had to endure a hell on earth that was entirely of these depraved "fighters" crazed thinking.

  6. This is hard to read. Nearly impossible to believe. Were it presented as fiction, I might roll my eyes at exaggerated excess. Kudos to the photographer. The images were as stunningly lovely (Vermeer in the empty room filled with rows) as the content was disturbing. Ms. Mohammed in her gorgeously draped blue robe and serene profile called to mind images of Mary. I only wish Ms. Mohammed had some kind of funding site: her sisters on the other side of the world would be honored to help her.

  7. @CC If you can find a reliable way to get funding to her, I'll donate!

  8. Would that the United States were able to invite and welcome this courageous woman (and others like her) to seek refuge here.

  9. Dream on. 😢

  10. @Annie42 That would happen expeditiously with any other administration but certainly not this one...compassion and humanitarianism are not part of their vocabulary...starting with the Occupant in the Oval Office -and then there is ethnicity, skin color and gender as disqualifiers.

  11. @kkm "With any other administration"..oh, like the one that denied embarkation to Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, or the one which sanctioned racist immigration quota laws in the first part of the last century? So, you give a free pass to that history in service of personal virtue signaling today? No need to erase past history in service of criticizing current practices.

  12. I only hope that they aren't using the real names and images of these brave young women. Unforgettable and moving story! I wish it were fiction instead or a dream we could wake up from.

  13. Once again we see who the real heroes are in these regions. And they are mostly women. Brave, showing courage, that not enough males do in these places.

  14. @Boregard No - alas too many young men are supporting the smugglers - and, yes, Deash terrorists through trying to get into Europe. Part understandable but too sad.

  15. I admire Ms. Mohammed deeply not only for her quick thinking, but for her bravery and discussing what happened to her. She is the sort of person who reminds us that we're not all as foolish the people who are responding so dysfunctionally to the Covid-19 pandemic.

  16. Thank you for so bravely sharing your story Ms. Mohammed. It is a testament to the courage and integrity of womankind. Your heroism is an inspiration and we thank you.

  17. Thank you for this powerful story. How can we help her?

  18. Such a gripping and compelling story of the inner strength and the mental fortitude that she put forth just to survive.I pray for her strength to maintain.

  19. An incredible story of defiance in the face of evil. As a nurse I welcome Ms. Mohammed to our community of caregivers. She has already exhibited the traits of a great nurse, compassion and advocacy! How can we support her?

  20. The real question that should asked is this: These Boko Haram militants cannot make as much as a pistol on their own. Where are they obtaining their deadly arms from? Why does our civilized society not find the manufacturers and merchants of these instruments of death liable?

  21. @Sam Those questions are also applicable to a place a lot closer than Nigeria, my friend. ;-)

  22. @Sam Ultimately the Russians and the Americans supply all of the weapons. Stuff gets left behind, stolen, purchase on the Black Market. The French are pretty good at supplying arms as well. I am incensed at my fellow Americans who think all this meddling across the world is OK.. Obama provided weapons for Syrian rebels.. Not entirely sure wht Trump has been up to.. Yes, we are to blame as are all the American voters who voted for Biden -- more of the same instead of Sanders or Warren. Simple litmus test-- if you do no believe in Medicare 4 allm you are NOT a Democrat. The ACA simply shores up more predatory/culture capitalism.. Why do MEN want so much power? and why are they willing to murder innocents to get it?/ Pray explain that.

  23. @Sam The article implied that they stole them from the military. Could be one reason why the locals are unhappy with their effectiveness.

  24. A tremendous profile in courage of these admirable women. Abductions have been happening since at least 2014. But it is numbing that they were (are) forced into such horrific situations, like many women all over the world who are viewed as disposable, mere chattel, a tool of trade for rabid power seekers. The terror they must have felt (are still feeling) is incomprehensible. How about listing some charities or foundations that help them go forward with their lives.

  25. What a crazy world we live in where this even exists, let alone that it is condoned even by one single person....and that more humans are not outraged and motivated to act on that accordingly. This is not normal, no matter who wants to avert their gaze and have you do the same.

  26. @Eden This is what happens when men are in charge. The world needs women in positions of power. Men know we’d be better at it, they just don’t want to give up their power over women.

  27. @Eden Part of me thinks it’s a flaw in the genetic code of humans. Men have destroyed in the name of *something* for ever. Women have been the ones to fix. Women don’t rape, pillage, destroy, hoard, kill. We’re on the receiving end of that. Women need to gain the power to change this world and its slowly happening.

  28. One of the most terrible, heart-wrenching accounts I have read in a while. Very depressing.

  29. where does all the oil weath, $40b a year, go? Seems the government response is under funded. for years.

  30. @Wall St Main St It lines the pcokets of the corrupt.

  31. Ms Mohammad's final revenge against Boko Haram: attending school.

  32. How can a fund be set up to help these girls?

  33. Unfathomable cruelty. How does Biko Haram endure?

  34. Can the Times suggest some organzations to support that are making a difference in this region? I'd gladly donate!

  35. How can we help fund these women? I am happy to give money to assist with school fees and nursing school. Please let us know.

  36. Now the world knows her story. I hope the good people help and the bad people get exposed. Everyone needs to keep her safe. Whole towns should support and back these girls.

  37. The photography was of the highest level: exquisitely showing the pain of their existence and the beauty of the people. Dangerously beautiful coverage. Kudos to Laura Boushnak.

  38. Courage comes in many forms. We often honor our soldiers and emergency workers. Their sacrifices are well known to us. Thank you for publishing such a sensitive portrait of a young woman born into very difficult circumstances, through no fault of her own, half way around the world. Her courage and resourcefulness are worth celebrating also. Perhaps we and our government should do more to help her and people like her.

  39. @David check out RefuSHE. We can help.

  40. The story is so painful, one needs to pause. It also puts our own Coronavirus challenges in perspective. Thank you to the readers who can and are willing to help. Let's hope Michelle Obama reads this. I remember her #BringBackOurGirls. Actually maybe there is a way to send help to these very brave young women.

  41. Yes, how do we help her?

  42. @Sarah Harrison here is one way: https://www.refushe.org/ It’s a wonderful charity with pretty low overhead.

  43. @Robert Richardson Thx for the rec, just need to make sure that their support can reach her through a special/restricted fund. Will email them with this suggestion and mention your name.

  44. @Robert Richardson It looks like a wonderful charity, but they haven't expanded into Nigeria yet.

  45. I could barely get through the article. I quit reading a couple times, but had to come back to it to finish. Having an experience like that is unfathomable to me. I would like to help her get through nursing school if there were some way to reach out.

  46. How can any person act like Boko Haram. It is beyond understanding. They think they serve God? They think they accomplish anything toward any "good", by any figuring? They certainly don't bring a caliphate any closer if that is what they think they are doing..

  47. Regarding Boko Haram: How do some of our fellow human beings become so depraved?

  48. @Barbara and ISIS, Pol Pot, the Nazis etc. How can people be so cruel?

  49. @Barbara if they try to escape they are treated as either terrorists or sympathizers and have no where to go no resources to fall back on. It is a terrible state for these women.

  50. They have more courage in their little fingers than I have in my entire body. However, I don't understand why they kept going back to the camp after they unloaded the bombs.

  51. They are likely now strangers i. a foreign land. Who will help them and will there be violence against them, perceived as terrorists?

  52. I wish We (US) use their tremendous resources to rescue such unfortunate souls rather than wasting our resources in Iraq, Afganistán etc. World will look up to us but I don’t see that happening , especially these girls being Muslims.

  53. The mind reels with thoughts of helping: send money, build a nursing school, send troops. None of these are as simple as they sound. But that does not mean we should not try. Several have mentioned https://www.refushe.org/ and I will check it out. Small steps help, we who really have no clue how to make sustainable change in places so different from our own. As a doctor who worked a few years in Africa, I would rather have one good honest administrator or politician, than 10 more good doctors. That good administrator will go out and get those other doctors. And without her, the 10 doctors who get burned out, exhausted, and leave. Good, competent, honest politicians and administrators are hard to come by. Very hard to come by.

  54. Can someone please tell us how we can provide financial assistance for her to continue her schooling?

  55. @Allison Grace agree. I too want to help.

  56. @Kathleen Me too!

  57. While I share the horror expressed in some of the comments, their is nothing new about the cruelty of Boko Haram. This country has produced terrorism on a like scale in the form of the KKK who also weren't above blowing people up, even in churches, not to mention the cruelty forced on native Americans for centuries.

  58. This is the culmination of of very long story. It is the story of the rape of africa. Egypyt fell to persia in 532 bce and the relentless assault on africa began in full swing. Alexander the great gave egypt a rest and protected it in 330 bc until the romans conquered all in 33 bc. They were true exploiters, enslaving the people and denuding africa for the next 400 years. Then came islam, the destroyer of all remaining cultures it encountered. Next came the europeans who mechanized rape, death and pillage to an astronomical height. Now, with africa destroyed, we have even western scholarship in ivy league universities claiming that africans never had any culture until the europeans arrived. Stolen from africa: the past, the present and the future.

  59. Extremely well written and moving peace about the tough lives that so many women in the "developing world,"in this case,Nigeria, endure, even if they did not face the horrors of living under the terror of the Boko Haram "en plus!"Which explains why, when some are fortunate to reach the land of the free,United States, they are so grateful and seldom if ever complain, but work hard, save and support their families.Former Ph.D adviser at NYU knew Kano in the northern part of the country, and the underdevelopment explains the insurgency in part. But hats off to those womens' bravery and stoicism and to the investigative resources of the Times newspaper.

  60. We shall start again the epics of the heroes not yet born and their mothers. Write their songs and choreograph their dances and walks. Let us start with these heroic women. Perhaps 6,000 years ago it was their ancestors who conquered Egypt, moved up and landed on the beaches of Crete and built their buried labyrinths and reinvented heroism? And made their way to Southern Sweden and Western Russia? Amidst the terror heroism is often born. Dr Victoria Mojekwu, RN, EdD Harvard, M.S. Boston University School of Public Health, M. S. Nursing Adminstration Cambridge University died in the deserts of North Eastern Nigeria driving for another village as she continued her work with WHO. An enchanting speaker yet she could dance with 13 different rhythmns on her body and literally hypnotize as she breathed and moved both the positive and the negative audience. Let Nigeria use their astounding women venture capitalists continue to do what so few men have chosen to do. This tale is a tale of decades.

  61. What kind of world we are creating?. This is too sad.

  62. These Boko Haram bandits ain’t Islamic at all. It’s all about power, absolute control and amassing fortune from ransom payment of abductees These young ladies are so brave & I fervently hope they can be helped. Boko Haram’s expanded into neighboring three very fragile neighboring nations of Cameroon, Chad and Nige’r Republic. None of these nations has the military wherewithal to effectively combat them. Additionally, some of them are very hardened well trained former soldiers of Gaddafi. After, Gaddafi’s ouster some of them became soldiers of fortune or mercenaries for hire. It’s truly amazing how the world how Western foreign policies can have far reaching consequences that are often hardly ever envisaged. Gaddafi, the strong man, was ousted because he’s very autocratic & cruel to his people but at least during his horrible reign the region’s stable, peaceful & even prosperous. After his fall Libya’s been a horrendous quagmire and many of his soldiers who were not Libyan have returned to their native homeland with consequent instability & mayhem in other nations including Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria and of course the other four nations mentioned above. What can I say about our desire to bring popular democracy to other nations!

  63. Please advise where to send funds for her to continue her schooling?

  64. This is heroism of the highest degree. True greatness is often borne from extreme suffering - suffering that reveals one's true nature. No matter how her life unfolds, she can always take comfort in knowing she was a warrior for a righteous cause. She should be Woman of the Year. As for those who ask how can such evil as Boko Haram exist? Ask someone who survived the Holocaust what made people into Nazis?

  65. I encourage anyone interested in an in-depth backstory on the Chibok girls that were captured to read CNN correspondent Isha Sesay’s book, Beneath the Tamarind Tree. From the other reader comments, it’s practically impossible to look the other way from the damage Boko Haram is doing to our humanity. I will also look into refuShe.org.

  66. RefuSHE looks to be only for East Africa. Not the region the article is describing. I’m not saying it’s not a great organization but a lot of these comments want to help the women in this story.

  67. I’d like to donate to help her and women like her. I’m sharing this story with my teenage daughter. It’s an emotional and tragic story but inspirational too.

  68. I wish the western oil companies would be shunned from looting the resources of the poor countries so that the indigineous people can reap the benefits of their own country. It is the creation of inequalities by these corporations and their respective governments backing them that terrorists like boko haram are created. Root cause analysis is a must by all of us.

  69. A woman so brave and strong, a true heroine.

  70. What a wonderful strong woman, Balaraba Mohammed. Thank you New York Times for giving this heroine the attention she deserves and sharing her story. I wish her all of the best and hope that she can get help to live in the peace that she so deserves.

  71. As a northern Nigerian Muslim, I pittty these women. And I think the problem is from the government actually. Our military, to be honest, aren't effective. To fight a terrorist organization, you have to use the art of espionage. But in a country that's mired with corruption, even the basic necessities of life are missing: power, water, and good roads.

  72. Like other people posting here, I'd like to know a legitimate place to donate to help these women. I can't imagine what they've been through.

  73. Thank you for highlighting the heroics of these brave women who had to face the unimaginable.