Haqqani Network captures US soldier in Afghanistan

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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • KW64 says:

    It sounds hard, but can you really afford to totally disrupt your battle plan in such search? A prisoner exchange may sound good so that you can get back to normal operations; but just as with Israel freeing a thousand Palestinians for one Israeli there is a limit to what you can trade before it hurts your war effort. The Haqqani’s probably did not go to this effort just to trade even up.

  • jonie says:

    the soldier’s fate is in the hands of the Taliban leadership
    Read more: https://www.longwarjournal.org/#ixzz0KABVm2SJ&C
    I believe the soldiers fate is in the hands of a loving God and I pray for his safety and release.

  • PJ says:

    It has been my experience with MISCAP soldiers that they will be moved fairly frequently and be interchanged among different groups typically moving on the outskirts of major operations. A goal may be to move the soldier into one of the Taliban’s media centers to make propaganda before the soldier becomes a liability to them or is no longer beneficial for whatever control they are attempting to assert. It may not be a conscientious goal at this point but there can also be a goal of distracting US Commands, redirecting troops away from Taliban movement, safehavens, etc, causing attrition and distraction. Plus, there will be a form of Taliban information Ops possibly going on whereas there will be mutliple stories with mulitple players, multiple locations making it difficult to determine what it true or not true.
    Al Qaeda, and Al Qaeda backed groups have traditionally posed a threat of kidnapping to NATO forces, journalists and aid workers. It creates a psychological impact that effects the very being of a U.S. Commander and his or her troops. Unlike, the Mujahadeen, we do not martyr our own. A life given to us on this Earth has significance and importance. It is not “Insha’Allah” (God’s Will) for us to sacrifice one of our own. The Mujahadeen are keenly aware of this.
    This abduction seems all too familiar to me. It reminds me of when the 10th MTN soldiers, who were abducted just before “the surge” in Iraq in May 2007 when Joint Forces were committed to an extended increased OPTEMPO with units and resources already stretched thin. Even so, a massive effort continued for the next year until the search mission was completed because we do not leave our soldiers behind. The strength, reserve and dedication of our soldiers was no less than phenominal as simultaneous missions were conducted, “The Surge” and finding the 10th MTN soldiers.
    The abduction sounds opportunistic at this point but there is not enough information through open sources to determine why a US soldier with training
    to prevent him from being captured, just walked away from an outpost as major newspapers claim.
    I know I will be watching the open source Jihadi media to see what is the talk.
    My mind and heart turns to thoughts of this soldiers safe return.

  • Ammo Guy says:

    “apparently walked away from a small combat outpost” – sounds kind of fishy to me, but I’ll withhold judgement until all the details are in (if ever). Meanwhile Bill, I can’t believe you referred to a terrorist leader as “respected”, but you’ve been at this so long, I’m reluctant to question your adjectives. Keep up the good work and God bless our military on this Independence Day weekend.

  • MJ says:

    Sounds like suicide by Taliban to me.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Ammo Guy,
    Jalaluddin Haqqani is respected across the spectrum of Taliban and al Qaeda groups. There’s a reason his son Siraj is always called in to mediate jihadi disputes.

  • britsarmymom says:

    Thank you, Bill, for creating this forum, especially with regard to this missing soldier. I know I’ll “hear it first” and reliably at longwarjournal as I wait to exhale on this nightmare. Each of these troops may as well be my own kid. I trust your source as no other.

  • tbrucia says:

    On July 1, 1916, 19,240 died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme… and now everyone is agonizing over a single guy (who may still be alive). It’s a strange world in which folks believe one can wage wars without significant casualties…. and if the deaths of a few hundred American troops affects any decision-making, it’s pointless to even try to wage a war….

  • ArneFufkin says:

    It’s important that every American military/civilian operator in Afghanistan understand that they need to assume that the battlespace they are entering is Al Anbar circa 2004 or Diyala circa 2007. The “hills have eyes” as it were. This is intense tip of the spear COIN warfare this coming year and no individual can be straying from strict rules and regulations regarding movement and interaction with locals or very bad things can – and will – happen in an instant. My prayers go out to this hero and his family for his safe return.

  • britsarmymom says:

    @tbrucia. . .it’s a delicate balance between detached indifference and “agonizing” over each life on the line. Having one’s eyes wide open to the treasure at stake doesn’t equate with cowardice. It’s not a matter of believing one can wage war without casualties, but rather, appreciating those who serve.

  • Steve Witkowski says:

    Is the scant coverage we’re receiving from main stream media, relative to the captured solider, an effort to portect the “welfare” of the soldier or the Obama Administration?
    I believe “the tables would be turned” and the story given more attention if a less popular president were in office (in an effort to cast an unfavorable light on that particular administration and thus sway public opinion on the war).
    Your comments?
    I’ll continue praying for his release, though….

  • Summer says:

    Providing the family some security by keeping a tight lid on this incident is one of the kindest things the media can do. The nightmare the media puts the family through with opening their mouths is real and dangerous. Media can also be used as propaganda against the captured. Keeping as little info about the situation is a good thing. We only need to know if the soldier makes it home okay and continue to keep the soldiers all over the world in our thoughts and prayers. Why ever the soldier walked off from his/her outpost is of no consequence. It could be as simple as needing to stretch their legs. And as for using our resources to find this person, absolutely it is for the greater good. There is a saying, no man left behind. If I had to fight for my immediate family, you think I would be able to choose who I would sacrifice…no way. Its truly the same for these soldiers. Leaving someone behind, knowing the enemy has nothing but bad intentions against your brother/sister, is enough reason to find them and get them home. I would expect that of my family, as the soldiers expect that of their “war” families. I wish this soldier all the endurance and strength he/she can muster and God willing, that they make it out of there with minimal damage. I send my regards to the family who will no doubt have many sleepless nights, many days of tears and worry and fear. Freedom isn’t free. Someone always pays. God bless the military and their families.


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