Elite Navy SEAL dies in rescue mission to save US doctor in Afghanistan (+video)
A member of the elite Navy SEAL Team Six was killed on Sunday during a mission that rescued an American doctor from kidnappers in Afghanistan, highlighting the fragile security situation there.
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Jenna Fisher is the Monitor's Asia editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine.
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A United States special operations member was killed during a weekend rescue mission in Afghanistan that freed an American doctor, raising questions about the safety of aid workers in the region as it prepares for a drawdown of US combat troops by 2014.
Dr. Dilip Joseph, a US citizen, and two others who work for a faith-based nonprofit organization, were captured by Taliban on Dec. 5 while they were returning from a rural health clinic outside the capital, Kabul.
The early Sunday raid that successfully rescued Dr. Joseph, a three-year employee of the Morning Star Development, an organization in Colorado Springs, Colo., came after 3-1/2 days of negotiations that reportedly included demands for a $100,000 ransom, according to the Colorado Springs' Gazette newspaper.
The rescue highlights the fact that, despite international efforts to control violence, kidnappings for ransom are still a frequent and lucrative business in the area, Foreign policy reports.
Much of the threat is simply criminal. There is a burgeoning kidnapping industry in Afghanistan, part of the conflict economy that has been fed by tens of billions of dollars the international forces and community have pumped into the country since 2001. Most kidnappings end either in the payment of a ransom or the death of the hostage, and ransoms for foreigners can approach half a million dollars – though it's wealthy Afghans who are most often the victims.
Joesph and the other two local Morning Star Development staff members were kidnapped on Dec. 5 by a group of armed men while returning from a visit to one of the organization’s rural medical clinics in eastern Kabul Province. They were eventually taken to a mountainous area about 50 miles from the Pakistani border.
It was not clear who was behind the kidnapping. Although US sources told NPR that seven members of the Taliban were killed in the raid, some Afghans believe the kidnappers were smugglers, according to CNN.
According to Morning Star Development’s website, negotiations began almost immediately and led to the release of two other employees on Saturday. About 11 hours later, after intelligence reports indicated the situation was life-threatening, the special forces team moved in.
According to Fox News, the special forces member who was killed was part of the Navy SEAL Team Six – the same special operations group used for the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, though it's unknown if he took part in that raid last year.