The West must help rescue Nigeria's abducted girls

May 8, 2014 

The abduction of more than 200 girls from a rural boarding school in Nigeria has finally brought the terrible and growing violence of the Islamic militant group Boko Haram to international attention.

The plight of the girls now presumed hidden in a vast forested area of northeastern Nigeria took on new urgency this week when the maniacal leader of the cult-like group threatened by video to “sell” the girls or force others as young as 9 into marriages. His threat is ominous given the pattern of increasingly horrific killings carried out by the group, whose name is loosely translated as “Western education is forbidden.” The marauding group is reportedly responsible for hundreds deaths already this year.

Western nations including the United States should act to save the girls. Modern technology and elite military units may be able to find the captives and bring their abductors to justice.

There are concerns about international involvement in the complex and brutal fighting within Nigeria and the region, but this is a case where the humane, moral and political course is clear: Rescue the girls and stop Boko Haram’s continuing slaughter of innocents.

Beyond responding to this dire situation, the United States and the West must address the weaknesses and excesses of Nigeria’s government. Africa’s most populous country is rich with oil, but has been unable to translate that wealth into stable government and security for its people.

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