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Jul 25th, 2010

Taliban kills 1 U.S. Sailor, 1 Held

Insurgents offer to exchange body of one serviceman for militant prisoners

July 25, 2010

KABUL — The Taliban have offered to exchange the body of a U.S. Navy member they said was killed in an ambush two days ago in exchange for insurgent prisoners, an Afghan official said Sunday.

U.S. and NATO officials confirmed that two American Navy personnel went missing Friday in the eastern province of Logar, after an armored sports utility vehicle was seen driving into a Taliban-held area.

In a telephone interview Sunday with The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the pair drove into an area under insurgent control, prompting a brief gunfight in which one American was killed and the other was captured. He said both were taken to a “safe area” and “are in the hands of the Taliban.”

Mujahid made no mention of any offer to exchange the pair for Taliban prisoners. A local Afghan officials said the Taliban sent a message through intermediaries offering to hand over the body in exchange for jailed insurgents. …

Posters of missing soldiers

Hundreds of posters of the two missing sailors have been hung at checkpoints throughout Logar province where NATO troops are stopping vehicles, searching people, peering inside windows and searching trunks.

The posters, with photographs of the missing sailors, state: “This American troop is missing. He was last seen in a white Land Cruiser vehicle. If you have any information about this solider, kindly contact the Logar Joint Coordination Center,” run by coalition and Afghan forces. A phone number is listed along with information about a $20,000 reward being offered for information leading to their location.

The photographs show one clean-shaven sailor wearing a soft cap and another with short-cropped hair, wearing a blue civilian shirt and a white undershirt. …

The two sailors left their compound in the Afghan capital, Kabul, in a vehicle Friday afternoon, but never returned, NATO said in a statement.

A NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the event, confirmed the two were Navy personnel, but would not identify their unit to avoid jeopardizing search operations. The official said it was unclear what the two were doing or what would lead them to leave their compound. The official would not say whether the two were on official business. …


One U.S. service member dead, another captured (MSNBC, July 25, 2010) — The Taliban says they were holding prisoner one of two U.S. soldiers who strayed into territory controlled by the insurgents, and that the other had been killed.  NBC’s Jim Maceda reports from Afghanistan. (02:03)

Bowe Bergdahl still missing

The only U.S. service member known to be in Taliban captivity is Spc. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, who disappeared June 30, 2009, in neighboring Paktika province, an area heavily infiltrated by the Haqqani network, which has deep links to al-Qaida. He has since appeared on videos posted on Taliban websites confirming his captivity. …


Related reports on this site

On July 19, 2009, the Department of Defense announced the identity of a soldier listed as Missing-Captured on July 3, 2009 while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho, was declared Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN) on July 1 and his status was changed to “Missing-Captured on July 3, 2009. Pfc. Bergdahl is a member of 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Bowe Bergdahl POW Taliban Tape (April 8, 2010)

The Pope’s Christmas Message 2009 (Dec. 25, 2009; scroll down)

Taliban Holding U.S. Bodies (Nov. 6, 2009)

War Comes Home to Minnesota (July 21, 2009; scroll down)

Captured U.S. Soldier Identified (July 19, 2009)

3 Dead in Attack on Base in Iraq (July 17, 2009; scroll down)


Related report

4 U.S. troops die in bomb blast in south Afghanistan (Associated Press, July 24, 2010) — Four American service members were killed Saturday in a bombing in southern Afghanistan. The latest deaths bring to 69 the number of international service members killed in Afghanistan this month, including 52 Americans. … Full story


7/27/10 Update

NATO Recovers Remains of Missing Sailor in Afghanistan

Body of U.S. sailor returning to U.S. (MSNBC, July 27, 2010) — The body of 30-year-old Justin McNeilly will arrive at Dover Air Force Base tonight. The sailor went missing in Afghanistan last week. (00:30)

July 27, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan — One of two U.S. sailors missing in Afghanistan since last week — a 30-year-old father of two — has been confirmed dead and his body recovered, a NATO spokesman said Tuesday.

The search continues for the other missing sailor, said Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a spokesman for NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The two Navy personnel went missing Friday in the eastern province of Logar, after an armored sport utility vehicle was seen driving into a Taliban-held area. The Taliban have said they killed one of the two men in a firefight, captured the other and are holding him in a “safe place” where he will not be found.

In a statement, the NATO-led command said the body was recovered Sunday after an extensive search and that the coalition “holds the captors accountable for the safety and proper treatment of our missing service member.” …

The sailors were instructors at a counterinsurgency school for Afghan security forces, according to senior military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. The school was headquartered in Kabul and had classrooms outside the capital, but they were never assigned anywhere near where the body of the sailor was recovered, the officials said.

Jim Kerr, a Colorado legislator from the Denver suburb of Littleton, said the sailor killed was his wife’s nephew, Justin McNeley. McNeley was from Colorado but moved to Kingman, Arizona, in 2004, three years after he joined the U.S. Navy. His mother lives in Kingman and his father is a fire official in Encinitas, California. …

The Pentagon identified the other sailor missing from the Logar incident as Jarod Newlove, 25, of Renton, Wash. Search and recovery efforts are ongoing, officials said, and the incident is under investigation. …


7/29/10 Update

Second U.S. Sailor’s Body Recovered in Afghanistan

Image: Jarod Newlove
The body of Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, a 25-year-old from the Seattle area, was found in Afghanistan on Wednesday, July 29, 2010. (Photo credit: Anonymous / AP)

By Amir Shah and Deb Riechmann

July 29, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan — The discovery of the body of a second U.S. sailor who vanished in Afghanistan last week only deepened the mystery of the men’s disappearance nearly 60 miles from their base in a dangerous area controlled by the Taliban.

An investigation is under way, but with both sailors dead, U.S. authorities remained at a loss Thursday to explain what two junior enlisted men in noncombat jobs were doing driving alone in Logar province, where much of the countryside is not under government control. …

Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin McNeley — father of two boys aged 5 and 9 — from Kingman, Arizona, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, 25, from the Seattle area, disappeared in the province July 23. McNeley’s body was recovered there Sunday and Newlove’s body was pulled from a river Wednesday evening, Afghan officials said. …

Officials at the NATO-led coalition headquarters in Kabul have not offered an explanation as to why the two service members were driving a heavily armored vehicle so far from their base at Camp Julien, a training facility on the western edge of the city. …

Samer Gul, chief of Logar’s Charkh district, said the two sailors, in a four-wheel drive armored SUV, were seen Friday by a guard working for the district chief’s office. The guard tried to flag down the vehicle, carrying a driver and a passenger, but it kept going, Gul said.

“They stopped in the main bazaar of Charkh district. The Taliban saw them in the bazaar,” Gul said. “They didn’t touch them in the bazaar, but notified other Taliban that a four-wheel vehicle was coming their way.”

The second group of Taliban tried to stop the vehicle, but when it didn’t, insurgents opened fire and the occupants in the vehicle shot back, he said. The NATO official confirmed that the vehicle had been shot up.

Gul said there is a well-paved road that leads into the Taliban area and suggested the Americans may have mistaken that for the main highway — which is much older and more dilapidated. …

U.S. officials did not provide details about how either sailor might have died. Darwesh, the provincial spokesman, said Newlove was shot once in the head and twice in the torso.

Mohammad Rahim Amin, local government chief in Baraki Barak, said villagers in the district called to report the body of a foreigner, clad in a uniform, in the river. He said coalition forces recovered it about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. He speculated the body could have floated downstream because the river was swollen by rain Tuesday night.

Amin said in recent days, security tightened around the Taliban, who were under pressure from Afghan forces, intelligence officials and coalition troops converging on the area in a massive search for the missing service member.

“It makes sense that the Taliban had nowhere to go, so they killed him,” Amin said, referring to Newlove.

Newlove joined the Navy in March 2004, completed his duty and joined the reserve in December 2008. He was called back to duty and was in Afghanistan by December 2009. He was trained as a culinary specialist but it was unclear whether he was working at that job in Kabul.

McNeley joined the Navy in 2001 and deployed to Afghanistan last year. He was classified as a hull technician. The job entails skilled metal work to maintain ships.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — July 25, 2009

Friends of fallen serviceman Jimmy Backhouse react as his hearse passes mourners lining the street on July 14, 2009 in Wootton Bassett, England.
As deaths rise, so do doubts on Afghan war — Friends of slain serviceman Jimmy Backhouse react as hearses carrying the bodies of eight British soldiers killed during a 24-hour period in Afghanistan pass mourners on July 14, 2009 in Wootton Bassett, England. (Photo credit: Simon Dawson / AP file)

Taliban Counteroffensive

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that Taliban fighters armed with suicide vests and automatic weapons, for the second time in a week, attacked a provincial capital in eastern Afghanistan, triggering hours-long gunbattles that left seven militants dead.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — July 25, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day 11

Two-year retrospective: Two years ago today, on the 11th day of my 2008 campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I reported back on the response received from Mr. Mario A. Hernández of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights in reply to my inquiry whether the August 9, 2008, “Know Your Rights” forum in Cold Spring, Minn., was intended specifically for legal immigrants and whether public funds would be used to benefit undocumented aliens.

2 Responses to “Taliban Captures U.S. Troop”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Missing Soldier Search Continues Says:

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