The Haqqani Network has captured a US soldier who was based in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika. The soldier, who has not been identified, had reportedly been captured after walking off of his small outpost.
The US military has confirmed a solider has been missing since June 30 and believes he has been captured by the Taliban.
“A US Soldier, who has been missing since June 30 from his assigned unit, is now believed to have been captured by militant forces,” US Forces Afghanistan said in a press release.
“We are exhausting all available resources to ascertain his whereabouts and provide for his safe return,” the US military continued. “We are not providing any further details at this time in order to protect the welfare of the Soldier.”
The soldier apparently walked away from a small combat outpost in Paktika province and was quickly captured by Haqqani Network fighters driving in a truck, Stars & Stripes reported.
The US military has launched a massive manhunt in eastern Afghanistan, and has devoted one to two platoons per battalion to the search operation.
“All activities in the region other than force protection have ceased because the effort now is to find our soldier,” Major Jose Aymat, the executive officer at Camp Clark in Khost province, told Stars & Stripes.
Haqqani Network behind the kidnapping
Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a senior lieutenant to Sirajuddin Haqqani who controls Paktika province, took credit for capturing the US soldier and said his fate is in the hands of Sirajuddin and the Taliban leadership.
“The case will be referred to Sirajuddin Haqqani and other Taliban top leadership,” Sangeen told CBS News. “They have to decide the future of the US soldier, but we would not mind a prisoner exchange in this case.”
Led by the respected mujahedeen commander Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Siraj, the network is well-organized in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Haqqani Network has been behind some of the most deadly attacks inside Afghanistan, and it receives direct support from elements within Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency and military.
Over the past month, the US military has targeted Siraj, Sangeen, and the network during a series of raids and airstrikes in both Afghanistan and Pakistan [see LWJ report, Coalition strikes at Haqqani Network in eastern Afghanistan].
Sangeen was almost captured during a raid on a Haqqani fortress in Paktika province, while both Siraj and Sangeen were the targets of US Predator airstrikes inside the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of South Waziristan in Pakistan. Since June 27, the US military has killed and captured dozens of Haqqani Network fighters and a mid-level commander.
Late last year, the Haqqani Network kidnapped a reporter for the New York Times and brought him to North Waziristan in Pakistan. The reporter escaped from the compound last month.