The Nigerian girls abducted in April by terrorist group Boko Haram are seen praying in a new video released this week by the organization's leader, Abubakar Shekau.
Boko Haram claims dozens of the nearly 300 missing girls are featured in the roughly 17-minute-long video. They appear sitting cross-legged in an open field with their hair covered and are reciting "Al-Fatiha," the first chapter of the Quran, in Arabic, according to New York magazine
. The girls appear to pray at one point, their hands clasped together before turning their palms upward in the style of Muslim worshippers.
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Interspersed with the clips of the girls is a monologue by Shekau, who holds a machine gun as he talks. In his monologue, he says, "These girls have become Muslims."
He then attempts to turn them into a bargaining chip by naming his ransom: "We will never release them until after you release our brethren."
According to NBC News counter-terrorism analyst Michael Leiter
, this is not the first time the leader has asked that his rebel soldiers be released by the Nigerian government.
"My sense is that President Goodluck Jonathan is not someone who is interested in negotiation with Boko Haram," he said. "Given the level of aggression that the Nigerian government has used when countering Boko Haram I don't think any [prisoner] release is forthcoming."
International concern for the girls has grown over the weeks since they were kidnapped in mid-April, with many around the globe repeating the "Bring Back Our Girls" slogan.
President Obama sent a team of experts to Nigeria to help strategize on how to get the girls back last week, however personnel capable of actually carrying out the rescue have not been sent.
"A rescue is always going to be very, very difficult," said Leiter. "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."
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