Bessent: Time to help kidnapped Nigerian girls

People attend a demonstration calling on government to

People attend a demonstration calling on government to rescue kidnapped school girls of a government secondary school Chibok, during workers day celebration in Lagos, Nigeria. Thursday, May, 1. 2014, Scores of girls and young women kidnapped from a school in Nigeria are being forced to marry their Islamic extremist abductors, a civic organization reported Wednesday. (Credit: AP)

Alvin Bessent

Portrait of Newsday editorial board member Alvin Bessent Alvin Bessent

Alvin Bessent joined the Newsday editorial board in 1993. He

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What kind of terrorists does even al-Qaida shun? Boko Haram of northern Nigeria is busy giving the world an answer.

The ruthless organization brazenly abducted about 300 teenage girls last month who were targeted because they had the courage to attend a western school. Eight more girls were abducted Monday, just hours after Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, was seen on a widely circulated video laughing while vowing to continue kidnapping the daughters of Christians, forcing them to convert to Islam and selling them into slavery for as little as $12 apiece.

Boko Haram -- which loosely translated means "western education is a sin" -- is waging a real war on women, who Shekau said should get a husband instead of an education.

But while infamous internationally for the kidnappings, Boko Haram's modus operandi includes brutal, indiscriminate killings, mutilations, church bombings and suicide attacks, including one on a United Nations compound in 2011 when at least 21 people died.

The group is also believed to be responsible for shooting and burning to death 59 boys at a boarding school in February in an attack that mirrored those on other schools in recent months.

Amnesty International estimates Boko Haram's body count at more than 1,500 in the first three months of this year.

Shekau claims Nigeria's Muslims have been persecuted by Christians and has declared his allegiance to al-Qaida. But al-Qaida has reportedly shunned Boko Haram, at least publicly, prompting speculation that its structure and ideology are just too opaque for the better known, international terrorist organization.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has had no luck in combating Boko Haram. In a May 4 speech, Jonathan pledged to find the missing girls and to apprehend the culprits. But so far the only people he has reportedly arrested are women who met with his wife Monday to protest government inaction on behalf of the mothers of the missing girls.

President Barack Obama has offered to help with intelligence and information.

He should offer to dispatch a few drones.