July 12, 2005


Official: Afghans sheltered SEAL from Taliban (CNN, 7/12/05)

Afghan villagers sheltered a U.S. Navy SEAL wounded in a battle last month with the Taliban until they could get word to American forces to rescue him, a military official said Monday.

The SEAL was part of a four-man reconnaissance team that went missing June 28 after calling for help during a firefight in the mountains near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. [...]

The commando suffered multiple leg wounds but was able to walk about two miles (three or four kilometers) through the mountains to get away, according to a U.S. military official, who insisted on anonymity.

An Afghan villager found the SEAL and hid him in his village, the official said.

According to military accounts, Taliban fighters came to the village and demanded the American be turned over, but villagers refused.

The SEAL wrote a note verifying his identity and location, and a villager carried it to U.S. forces, the official said. The note indicated to U.S. troops that they wouldn't be entering into a trap. The commando was rescued July 3.

The military has not revealed his identity.

How the Shepherd Saved the SEAL: Exclusive: The tale of an Afghan's amazing rescue of a wounded U.S. commando (TIM MCGIRK, 7/11/05, TIME)

A crackle in the brush. That's the sound the Afghan herder recalls hearing as he walked alone through a pine forest last month. When he looked up, he saw an American commando, his legs and shoulder bloodied. The commando pointed his gun at the Afghan. "Maybe he thought I was a Taliban," says the shepherd, Gulab. "I remembered hearing that if an American sticks up his thumb, it is a friendly gesture. So that's what I did." To make sure the message was clear, Gulab lifted his tunic to show the American he wasn't hiding a weapon. He then propped up the wounded commando, and together the pair hobbled down the steep mountain trail to Sabari-Minah, a cluster of adobe-and-wood homes--crossing, for the time being, to safety.

What Gulab did not know is that the commando he encountered was part of a team of Navy SEALs that had been missing for four days after being ambushed by Taliban insurgents during a reconnaissance mission in northeastern Afghanistan. An initial search mission to find the missing SEALs ended in disaster on June 28, when a Chinook helicopter carrying 16 service members was shot down over Kunar province, killing everyone aboard, in one of the deadliest attacks so far on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Since then, the bodies of two of the missing SEALs have been recovered; another is still classified as missing, though the Taliban claims he was captured and beheaded.

One member of the team did survive. Though the military has not released the name of the SEAL (the U.S. military seldom gives out the names of its special-operations personnel), TIME pieced together his story on the basis of briefings with U.S. military officials in Afghanistan plus an exclusive account of how Gulab, an Afghan herdsman, rescued the wounded commando. What emerges is the tale of a courageous U.S. fighter facing impossible odds in unfamiliar terrain, stalked by the enemy and stripped of everything but his gun and his will to survive. But it is also a story of mercy and fraternity, showing that even in the war-scorched landscape of the Afghan mountains, little shoots of humanity sometimes have a chance to grow.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 12, 2005 4:20 PM

Where's that lonebud nutjob?

Posted by: at July 12, 2005 12:36 PM

The House of Islam has many rooms.

Posted by: Peter B at July 12, 2005 1:17 PM

This is a village that should get some immediate US aid in gratitude. Assuming of course that it wouldn't make them a target for Taliban destruction.

Posted by: Patrick H at July 12, 2005 1:54 PM

They didn't want to share the ransom with the Taliban. Good businessmen.

Posted by: h-man at July 12, 2005 2:12 PM

Am I alone in thinking that the US will be hunting and killing Taliban for the next 10 years, and perhaps more? I only wish we could hurry, but we might miss some. Kill them all.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 12, 2005 2:33 PM

Don't forget Gulbuddin Heykmatyr - why he still breathes is beyond me. Same for the warlord in Herat. Sure, it might upset some tribes, but we'll be killing them well into the next decade, too. How about a flock of those new lawn dart sized bombs on your hut? Followed by the 500-pounder, just to be sure.

Posted by: ratbert at July 12, 2005 4:16 PM

I hope Time isn't using Gulab's real name here. Anyone who harms him should suffer the most horrible death that we can devise...

Posted by: b at July 12, 2005 5:44 PM

I highly doubt that U.S. troops will be hunting Taliban for ten more years.

The Afghans will be able to take over before then, or most Talibs will have given up and joined other, more successful warlords or factions, or America will have had her fill, and gone home, after a big victory celebration.

Peter B:

There are plenty of great Muslims.

There aren't any great majority-Muslim societies, anymore.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at July 12, 2005 6:59 PM

They printed his name, he's dead.

Posted by: Sandy P at July 12, 2005 9:05 PM

This fellow and his entire extended family should immediately be given entry visas to the USA. First of all - in gratitude. Secondly - to preserve their lives.

Posted by: obc at July 12, 2005 10:42 PM