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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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President Obama issued a statement about the fallen solider, saying that "he and his teammates remind us once more of the selfless service that allows our nation to stay strong, safe, and free." 

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Jenna Fisher is the Monitor's former Asia editor, overseeing regional coverage for and the weekly magazine from 2010 through 2013.

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The doctor's family reportedly paid a $12,000 ransom for his release, but Morning Star Development stressed that it had not paid anything for ransom. 

The organization

The Gazette described the Morning Star Development organization as a “lower-profile faith-based organization in Colorado Springs.”

Its founder, Daniel Batchelder of Colorado Springs, told The Gazette in 2010 that the organization “does evangelical work in countries where the law permits. In Afghanistan, where Islam is the predominant religion, employees refrain from proselytizing."

Though Morning Star Development, which was created in 2002, had just seven employees in Colorado Springs in 2010, the nonprofit has a rather large overseas budget.

It employed 153 people in Afghanistan at one point, funded by an annual budget of about $900,000, according to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), an accreditation agency dedicated to funding transparency in Christian organizations. Approximately 90 percent of the budget is spent on community and economic development in the rural areas of Afghanistan.

Kidnappings in Afghanistan 

Some recent high-profile kidnappings have ended with negotiations and release, but other aid workers have also been killed:

Two foreigners were reported missing in October by a provincial reconstruction team in volatile Wardak, west of Kabul, and were feared to have been kidnapped, Afghan police told Reuters, and investigation is reportedly underway. And in May, two Western female doctors working for a Swiss medical charity were kidnapped with two Afghan colleagues by gunmen in northeastern Afghanistan. They were later rescued by NATO special forces soldiers.

Last year, two French journalists were released after 547 days in Taliban captivity (see the Monitor report here). In 2010, a British aid worker was kidnapped and used as a bargaining chip to free neuroscientist Dr. Daafia Siddiqui. And in 2008, the Monitor reported on a group of 23 South Korean church volunteers who were kidnapped in southern Afghanistan. Two were killed before the others were released. 

"[The] mission exemplifies our unwavering commitment to defeating the Taliban," Gen. John Allen, the commander of US and ISAF forces in Afghanistan, told reporters.


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