Not afraid

The Nigerian women who apprehend female terrorism suspects

Detainees cleared after being suspected of being members of Boko Haram Islamists walk to freedom in Maiduguri, Borno State on July 6, 2015 (STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

Fatima Muhammed is one of fewer than fifty women who serve in the Civilian Joint Task Force (C.T.J.F.), a group believed to be 10,000-fighters strong, that battles Boko Haram in Maiduguri and the surrounding areas in northeastern Nigeria. Most Maiduguri residents, the C.T.J.F. included, are Muslim, and cannot enter the homes of women they do not know. So when the group needs to apprehend women suspected of being terrorists, Fatima steps in. Fatima says she’s “not afraid at all,” but her job is dangerous: locals typically live with their extended families in open compounds, and she must approach the suspects without a weapon and convince them to return with her.

Boko Haram increasingly uses women and even girls under the age of fifteen, willingly or not, to carry out their attacks. Fatima’s duties also entail the frisking of women coming into crowded public events such as festivals. Over a six-year insurgency, Boko Haram has created two million refugees. Upwards of one million of them are in Maiduguri, and hundreds more arrive each week.

Read the full story at The New Yorker.

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