Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Reports Say Afghan Villagers Sheltered Wounded U.S. SEAL from the Taliban

An inspiring true story of civilian courage in the face of armed militants.

Today, CNN Interactive reported that a wounded U.S. Navy SEAL was hidden by Afghan villagers who defied demands from armed Taliban fighters loyal to the group's leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar (right), that he be turned over. The SEAL, who had multiple leg injuries, was one of the members of a missing reconnaissance team who disappeared in late June. The other 3 SEALs in his party were killed in action against Taliban fighters. A U.S. MH-47 transport helicopter, carrying reinforcements and a search party, was shot down by the Taliban, killing all 16 U.S. military personnel aboard.

Early reports, spurred on by Taliban announcements, stated that up to 3 SEALs had been captured by the militant Deobandi organization. Some reports also said that Taliban militants had executed them. These reports have been denied by U.S. military spokespeople, though a total of 19 soldiers died in the reconnaissance and rescue operations.

According to U.S. military reports, an Afghan villager discovered the wounded SEAL and helped him back to a nearby village. When armed Taliban paramilitary fighters came to the village and demanded that the SEAL be turned over, the villagers rebuffed them. After turning the Taliban away, a villager carried a note from the soldier verifying his identity and location to U.S. forces, who picked up the SEAL on July 3.

To view the full CNN Interactive story, see:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/07/11/afghan.seal/index.html

In my opinion, this is an inspiring example of the courage of ordinary people, in this case Afghan villagers, who stood up against an armed militant group known for its violence and repressive attitudes toward both men and women. Instead of being cowed by the Taliban, these villagers defied them, forcing them to back down. This is no small matter, since the Taliban's record is both brutal and well-known. During the five years it ruled most of Afghanistan, they issued draconian restrictions on women and men, severely cracked down on all forms of entertainment and activities that they deemed to be "un-Islamic," and they committed numerous massacres, including a series of organized executions of Shi'ite Hazara between 1998 and 2001.

To view a U.S. Department of State report on massacres committed by the Taliban, see:
http://canberra.usembassy.gov/hyper/2001/1017/epf312.htm


My sincere hope is that more and more ordinary Afghans and Iraqis say, "enough is enough," to the terrorists and radical insurgents that commit acts of horrific violence in the name of Islam. I think there are already signs that this is beginning to happen.