November 12, 2008

Positivity: Inside a U.S. hostage rescue mission

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 7:11 am

From Afghanistan:

Spec ops conducts night raid in Afghanistan mountains
Posted: Monday Nov 10, 2008 20:18:42 EST

The American businessman lay shackled in a mud hut 8,000 feet up a remote mountain in Afghanistan, armed captors posted inside and outside to prevent any escape attempt.

Earlier in his captivity, he had made a run for it, but — barefoot and much older than the insurgents who held him — he was snatched back before he could get far.

After nearly two months in captivity and out of contact with anyone who cared about him, the hostage reviewed what his fate might hold — whether ransom negotiations or rescue efforts or a miracle might bring him freedom.

“One option was for the money to arrive and be ransomed,” the 61-year-old engineer from Ohio told Military Times, speaking on the condition that he remain anonymous. Another was “that they’d just get tired of me and let me loose.” A third was “some kind of military intervention,” he said. “In my mind I’d given a military intervention a one out of a hundred chance. Not that they couldn’t do it, but they’re busy and I’m not that important a fellow.”

On an airstrip many miles away, however, several twin sets of Chinook helicopter rotor blades were starting to turn as about 60 of America’s most elite troops prepared to prove him wrong. Members of a task force that Military Times agreed not to name, the commandos had been hunting for the businessman since soon after he went missing. Now they were ready to act.

This is the story of one of the most daring and successful U.S. hostage-rescue missions in years.

Stopped on the road

The American businessman and his Afghan partner in an engineering firm that employed 15 locals were driving home Aug. 20 from a funeral in Wardak province when they were stopped along the road by an armed man.

“Initially, there was one armed man who stopped us and demanded papers from my partner,” the American businessman said in a Nov. 6 telephone interview.

“That happens fairly often in Afghanistan,” said the businessman, who had worked in the country for nine years. “I didn’t think too much about it. … Then he wanted to see my papers.”

After the gunman took an inordinate time examining his documents, the American realized something was wrong. “Things weren’t going the way they normally went,” he said. “We were taken to a local hiding place” and then to a more remote location.

The hostage-takers were no mere criminals, but members of the Hezb-i-Islami (Party of Islam) militant group of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a special operations officer familiar with the mission said.

A radical Islamist warlord, Hekmatyar was a principal beneficiary of U.S. covert aid during the war fought by Afghan mujahidin against the Soviet and Afghan communist forces in the 1980s but is now relentlessly hunted by U.S. forces along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

The American’s wife, who worked with him in Afghanistan, realized something had happened to her husband when he failed to return home. At first, she and others close to him tried to negotiate through third parties with the kidnappers. Within about five days, the engineer’s Afghan partner was released when the duo’s company paid a ransom for him, but the kidnappers didn’t seem interested in exchanging the American for cash. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

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