Confronting the Unthinkable:
Suicide Bombers in Northern Nigeria

Published February 29, 2016
By Patricia Taft and Kendall Lawrence*
FFP Publication 303 01 1602
Report available in PDF and Flash formats
The use of women and children as weapons of war in northern Nigeria and in neighboring countries is undoubtedly horrific, there is often the tendency to paint the phenomenon with a broad brush that identifies the bombers as victims without agency, or the right of choice, in their fate. To the extent that this assumption has implications for response, it should be acknowledged that the question of agency is inevitably much more complex and uncomfortable. Certainly, no ten-year-old child can be said to be of a mental and emotional maturity to make such a fatal choice. However, the assumption that the women and children who have carried out these attacks are all abductees is false.
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* Charlotte Bellm also contributed to this report.
This report is based on research conducted by the Fund for Peace over the past two years as well as a series of interviews conducted over a weeklong period in Maiduguri, Borno state, and Abuja, FCT, in November and December, 2015. It is also based on analyzed data generated by the NSRP VAWG Observatory Platform, the Partners for Peace (P4P) Map (including data from Nigeria Watch and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project– ACLED). The Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), was also used in the research and writing of this report. All views expressed are solely those of FFP and are not reflective of its funders or partners.