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Friday, 3 July 2009

Captured U.S. Soldier 'Sold to Haqqani Network'

An American soldier captured in Afghanistan earlier this week has been sold to a notorious militant clan.

The Haqqani network is a group run by Jalaluddin and Siraj Haqqani and is widely considered one of the most ruthless Islamist outfits in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to the CIA, it is closely aligned with al Qaeda's central leadership.

From CNN:
An American soldier captured in southeastern Afghanistan is being held by a notorious militant clan, a senior U.S. military official said.

The American and three Afghan soldiers were captured by low-level militants and then quickly "sold" to the clan led by warlord Siraj Haqqani -- believed to be deeply involved in the action.

The Haqqanis operate on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and are well known to the U.S. military. They are assembling shuras, or local councils of leaders, to talk and try to "legitimize" what they have done, the official said.

U.S., Afghan and Pakistani troops are sealing off the area and also are talking to tribal chiefs, village elders and leaders.

They are telling them to "do the right thing and solve this," the official said.

The U.S. military is telling people not to let Haqqani operatives move through their area and to find the American and return him. The military wants to make sure there is "no shelter" for the militants holding him.

The Taliban who captured the soldier allege he was drunk, but the American authorities insist he was on duty at the time.

From the Mail:

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the capture of the soldier, with a commander saying he had been drunk when he was captured.

The soldier visited a military post in the Yousaf Khel district in the Paktika province on Tuesday and got drunk, the Taliban commander said, according to U.S. media.

He was ambushed while returning to his car and was taken to a safe place along with three Afghan soldiers he was with, the commander said.

The U.S. military has denied the soldier was drunk, though officials did say the soldier was on duty when he went missing in the area.

He was captured by low-level militants and then sold to the clan by warlord Siraj Haqqani in south-eastern Afghanistan, an official told CNN.

The Haqqanis operate on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and are well known to the U.S. military.

They are the most important insurgent group operating in that area. Haqqani himself has been accused of masterminding beheadings and suicide bombings by the U.S.

U.S. military spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias said: 'We have all available resources out there looking for him and hopefully providing for his safe return.'

Mathias did not provide details on the soldier, the location where he was captured or the circumstances.
The news broke as thousands of U.S. Marines launched a major anti-Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan. The missing soldier was not part of that operation.

'We are not providing further details to protect the soldier's well-being,' she said.

Afghan Police Gen. Nabi Mullakheil said the soldier went missing in the Mullakheil area of eastern Paktika province, where there is an American base.

The soldier was noticed missing during a routine check of the unit on Tuesday and was first listed as 'duty status whereabouts unknown,' a U.S. defence official said on condition of anonymity.

It wasn't until Thursday that officials said publicly that he was missing and described him as 'believed captured.'

Details of such incidents are routinely held very tightly by the military as it works to retrieve a missing or captured soldier without giving away any information to captors.

The missing man is an enlisted soldier, and his family has been notified.

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