Why is everybody making noise just because I took some girls who were in Western education anyway?

- Abubakar Shekau

Those are the words of the Islamist leader described as "the craziest of all commanders." He organized the raid that kidnapped 300 girls from a Nigerian boarding school three weeks ago.

Reason doesn't seem to be in Shekau's vocabulary, which only adds to the urgency to free the children. While the United States has offered intelligence assistance, hostage negotiators, and other aid, Britain said it will send special forces if Nigeria asks.

Shekau's group, Boko Haram, which translates loosely as "Western education is sinful," has waged a five-year antigovernment campaign that has left at least 4,000 Nigerians dead. But it took the kidnapping of the schoolgirls to get the world's attention.

Many Nigerians are upset that the government didn't do more to find the girls immediately after their abduction. Now that Shekau has garnered the attention he coveted, it may be even harder to negotiate their freedom.

It's heartening to see so many in this country and elsewhere support efforts to "Bring Back Our Girls." They know the longer their captivity lasts, the more uncertain their fate becomes.