Monday, June 19, 2006

Al Qaeda claims to have two missing soldiers

A group of Al-Qaeda affilated groups claim to be holding the two missing American soldiers.

The umbrella group, called the Mujahedeen Shura Council, said it was holding the two privates — one from Texas and the other from Oregon — as well as four Russian diplomats kidnapped June 3 in Baghdad. It also claimed to have killed a fifth Russian.

My stomach always clenches when I hear about U.S. troops getting captured, because the possibilities are so much messier than the relatively straightforward fates of being killed or wounded in combat.

I'm not hopeful about what will happen to these two. A lot depends upon which insurgent faction captured them; I would have been happier to see them fall into the hands of native Iraqis rather than groups linked to Al Qaeda.

A couple of thoughts and observations from the coverage:

1. Why do we "capture" insurgents, but insurgents "kidnap" U.S. soldiers? The answer is usually because we're uniformed combatants and they're not. But i don't recall us describing the Viet Cong as "kidnapping" soldiers during the Vietnam war. This isn't a criticism; it's just an observation on the role language plays in shaping perceptions of this fight.

2. The reason we should treat prisoners humanely is for precisely this situation: it gives us some hope that the enemy will treat our prisoners similarly. And if they don't, it gives us solid grounds for moral outrage.

But what can we say if they treat these two prisoners the way we treated the Abu Ghraib prisoners (some of whom died)?

What can we say if they simply decide to hold them indefinitely, like we do with the prisoners at Gitmo?

What can we do if they decide to waterboard them, or stick them in "stress positions", or freeze and bake them?

May we find them and rescue them so we don't have to answer any of the above questions. And if they are killed, may their deaths be quick and merciful.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This case of two soldiers taken reminds me of another soldier (Private Maupin ?)taken more than 2 years back .He appeared in a video and then I dont remember reading anything more.
Know more about that soldier ?


6/19/2006 2:51 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

No word on him since that video. An insurgent group claimed the video showed his execution, but that wasn't all that clear.

6/19/2006 2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about playing games with language. "Freeze" and "Bake" them????

And the difference between "capture" and "kidnap" has to do with how it's done. You capture someone on a battlefield after they surrender in a lieu of killing them. You give them a chance to live. You kidnap someone by ambushing them and surrounding them by all sides with the sole purpose of taking them to an undisclosed location, torturing them and killing them.

I only hope and pray that when we find our soldiers they have received the EXACT same treatment we give those in Guantanamo. That will mean they will still be alive, well-fed, and well cared for.

6/19/2006 4:03 PM  
Blogger Dyre42 said...

JP5 I would beg to differ on the differences between capturing and kidnapping. Its not the method that creates the distinction but the legitimacy of theauthority that mandated the taking of a person against their will. So governments capture or apprehend while private citizens and non government sanctioned organizations kidnap.

6/20/2006 2:32 AM  
Anonymous Marc said...

Don't militaries set out to capture prisoners for information and so forth with no intention of killing them? Why isn't that kidnapping rather than capturing? I agree with Sean; everyone uses semantical distinctions to justify their own positions. We capture, they kidnap. We are, in some cases, at least, obviously trying to capture insurgents to get information. As for the intent to torture, I don't see how that affects the language distinction. The Japanese captured soldiers with the intention of torturing or at least working them to death. No one called that kidnapping. And, of course, you can kidnap someone without the intention of torturing them or killing them.

I certainly appreciate the difference (despite Abu Gharib)between being captured by the US military and being captured by Al Qaida, but those differences would applied in World War II.

I'm not trying to be flippant here. The possibility that these guys were taken by Al Quaida terrifies me, both from a personal and a political perspective.

6/20/2006 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The soldiers bodies were found, apparently tortured and mutilated to death.
Heinous crime. can think how humans can carry out something like this.

If our country had a better standing than what is now, there probably would have been some locals helping us. but the locals have become alienated due to the widely publicized incidents and bad policies ( abu ghraib, haditha,gitmo limbo) And that is where I see the high moral ground is slipping

I personally have become greatly cynical about Iraq . It was never a part of the war on terror to start with. it is now. it seems to have become a magnet to all the jihadis of the muslim world. like how Bosnia and Afghanistan were. it is true..... Kashmir has a continuing militancy but the crossing of foreign jihadis from pakistan occupied kashmir seems to have gone down.
I think the administration had clear intentions all the time. attract all jihadis to iraq and fight them there.

6/20/2006 5:37 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

it seems to have become a magnet to all the jihadis of the muslim world.

I wrote about this way back at the beginning of Midtopia, here.

If that was our plan, it's a stupid one. There is essentially an endless supply of jihadists. You only solve that problem by addressing the underlying conditions that create them. By taking on all these additional enemies, we have reduced the resources available to fighting actual terrorists.

I'm not cynical about Iraq; I'm mad. Mad at the stupidity, and mad that the only honorable choice is to keep digging the hole deeper and hope that somehow we dig ourselves out of trouble.

6/20/2006 9:44 PM  

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