The Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram kidnaps Christian women, forces them to convert to Islam, and then marries them off to Islamist militants as slave wives, Reuters reported.
Boko Haram, which translates to “Western education is sinful,” is known for attacking two schools in Nigeria and killing more than 80 students this year.
The U.S. Department of State formally recognized the group as a “foreign terrorist organization” on Wednesday, making it a crime to provide Boko Haram with “material support.”
One slave bride, Hajja, told Reuters that she was held captive in a hilltop cave, where two Boko Haram gunmen told her told convert to Islam or die.
“If I cried, they beat me,” Hajja, 19, told Reuters. “If I spoke, they beat me. They told me I must become a Muslim but I refused again and again.”
“They were about to slaughter me and one of them begged me not to resist and just before I had my throat slit I relented,” she said. “They put a veil on me and made me read from the Koran.”
Hajja spent three months as a slave to a 14-man guerrilla unit, cooking and cleaning for the militants, before she escaped.
“I can’t sleep when I think of being there,” she said.
After witnessing dozens of attacks, she recalled how the group used her to ambush civilians in one village who were working with the army. The group, led by Ibrahim Tada Nglayike, had Hajja attract the villagers’ attention and then ambushed them.
“They took them back to a cave and tied them up,” she said. “They cut their throats, one at a time. I thought my heart would burst out of my chest, because I was the bait.”
Hajja says she got away by pretending to have stomach pains. Islamist militants sent her to a hospital with an older women. Out of the reach of her captors, she told the woman she was about to inform on the group and the woman fled.
“I finally tore off the veil and I cried,” Hajja said. “So many times I thought I’d die.”
Boko Haram abducted a French priest in Cameroon on Wednesday and is demanding ransom from the French authorities.