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08 December 2014

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b

AQAP had never before killed a foreign hostage. All were/are held till some money is moved. AQAP only threatened to kill Somer after the first U.S. attempt on November 25 (which incidentally freed seven AQAP fighters held by their own folks for alleged spying.)

(It is also not evident that this is always AQAP. Lots of tribal folks take hostages for money. Fear of public beheading or something like that was likely unnecessary. AQAP and the tribals are not IS.)

It is mysterious in this case that the U.S. did not know (as it says) that the South African hostage, also killed in that raid, was to be freed that very day. There was lots of communications about this in Yemen as well as internationally and the NSA should have picked it up.

Earlier in November a U.S. drone strike killed tribal mediators on their way to talk about freeing Korkie. Why were they killed? How did the U.S. know about them but not about the freeing Saturday?

There are rumors in Yemen that AQAP capture a U.S. trainer/soldier during a raid on Al Anad airbase in November. Could the real reason these recent raids be related to that?

The story does not yet make sense to me.

FND

Americans should be allowed to travel anywhere in the world they wish as far as our government is concerned, but at their own risk. It should not be our government's responsibility to rescue any and all American citizens world-wide, especially when they choose to go into high risk areas. On the other hand, if they are sent by the government, then its the government's responsibility to rescue them.

turcopolier

b

Lost in the world of conspiracy again? When you have an AQAP leader making videos in which he specifies that Somers will die unless you comply then you have no choice but to act. Behind the leader in the video was the IS flag. pl

FND

Maybe our government wants to discourage ransom payments. Just a thought.

Jose

Col. has Delta Force been retired or disbanded? Why are Kermit and the Froggies getting all the limelight?

turcopolier

Jose

The SEALS had captured the leadership of SOCOM and JSOC. Then the press made them into ridiculously large figures, Delta is alive and well. pl

pob2

As long as "we" continue to follow our script and therefore totally predictable (and very easily provokable!) behaviours, "they" will follow theirs.

Motive, means and opportunity need to be dealt with together.

If you deal with means, for example, in ways that massively incite motive have you really done such a great job?

Perhaps media people with dual Israeli/US citizenship or former U.S. military sojourning in, say, Syria, Yemen, NE Nigeria, DRC, all of Pakistan and Afghanistan and similar cauldrons have a rather more limited claim on precious national resources (including other people!) than do those sitting quietly in their own rooms.

b

Lost in the world of conspiracy again? When you have an AQAP leader making videos in which he specifies that Somers will die unless you comply then you have no choice but to act. Behind the leader in the video was the IS flag. pl

Yeah. Like that "conspiracy theory" I have had for month about Israel (and the U.S.) supporting Nusra in south Syria ...

The AQAP leader did not say what the conditions to comply to actually were. No specifying his demands in public was obviously an offer to negotiate them. AQAP has always negotiated a lot about hostages sometimes over several years.

The Kurdish news agency Rudlaw posted this today:
"Top commander of al Qaeda in Yemen calls ‪#‎ISIS‬'s beheading method "barbaric," saying such acts in the name of Allah is unacceptable and unjustified."
https://www.facebook.com/RudawEnglish/posts/713329242108315

I do not find it plausible that Somer's death was imminent and that chances justified such a very risky raid which ultimately failed and killed 10 innocent civilians.

I am also quite confident that U.S.knew about the other hostage and about the attempts to free it.

FND above says: "Maybe our government wants to discourage ransom payments. Just a thought."

That would be quite a legal jump. Kill a South African and Yemeni civilians to prevent some ransom payment? How could any international law (not that Obama cares much about such) justify such murder?

turcopolier

b

I have acknowledged that you were right. that does not mean you will always be right. I would think in this case that you would point out that it does not make sense for an AQAP official to be displaying the IS flag. pl

Cee

Col. Lang,

What can you share about soldiers left behind in Vietnam? I've been haunted since reading Kiss the Boys Goodbye: How the United States Betrayed Its Own POWs in Vietnam.

elaine

Black flags/Black standards have been around for awhile
& it seems to me AQ was flying them before we ever heard of ISIS

turcopolier

Elaine

You must pay attention to details. This particular black flag belongs only to IS, and not to any part of AQ. pl

turcopolier

CEE

I don't believe any of that. Before I left the government I ran all of Defense HUMINT. My clandestine guys and gals were deployed in Thailand in support of the MIA/PW agency at Hickam AFB on Oahu. We recruited and ran assets all over SE Asia in support of the MIA/PW mission. We paid off innumerable Communist officials in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to obtain all available enemy records of our lost people. Some of the time the MIA/PW agency was able to buy back bones on that basis. I think we resolved the cases of the truly missing. There were a few people who chose to desert to the enemy and did not wish to return. A few of them may still be living somewhere. pl

Anonymous

"I have acknowledged that you were right..."

Sometimes you eat the b. and sometimes the b. eats you.

turcopolier

Anonymous

I have always felt that I have no particular right to be correct. Whatever advances the work is good. pl

Haralambos

Hindsight and planning on terrorism and rescue missions: a few thoughts and recollections. I recall the attack on the Athens airport although I was not living here then: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Al_Flight_253_attack
Then we had Munich and the Olympics in 1972, Entebbe in 1976, and I had yet to come to Greece; and the failed rescue attempt of the American diplomats in Iran to name several.
I have never been involved in such decisions and would not like to be in charge of making such decisions. I do not think any of our "deciders" and advisers these days have much of any skin in the game or a bloody clue.

john

Col., Thank you!

As a pilot flying in harm’s way, both over South and North Vietnam, I still remember our highly classified briefing on the “Blue Light Program.” We were not told much about it, but we were told their mission, and how we could hook up with them if we were shot down.

Just the knowledge of these/you people made a big difference in prosecuting our facet of that war. Thank you and your colleagues! It meant a lot to all of us.

Brad Ruble

Good advise all around. My father would have been 100 today. That is basically what he tried to teach his kids.

jr786

"This particular black flag belongs only to IS, and not to any part of AQ."

I wondered about this, too. Why then did the government say it was al qaeda? In any case, the two hostages and the usual bag of civilians are dead. Will there be any outrage on behalf of Corkie's poor widow, her husband dead, at best, because of negligence, at worst for reckless disregard of a non-American's life?

Do value live value less than ours? Someone should ask the Philosopher King about it.

Joe100

I may have seen a couple of the "few" when the point element of the company I was assigned to was ambushed. This was the incident that leads off "Lost Soldiers" by Jim Webb. I could see the point as the column ahead of me dropped down into a draw with the point having moved up the far side. A machine gunner opened up behind me on what appeared to be a couple of our marines, but when I asked he answered that they had packs on - which our patrol did not. I don't recall that there were serious casualties on our side nor were the two apparent deserters ("salt and pepper") leading the ambush killed.

Someone from G-2 flew in the next day on our re-supply with a picture book to question our point troops who were closest to the ambushes. I have always wondered about how many desertions occurred in RVN and their fate.

Cee

Col. Lang,

Thank you.

turcopolier

joe100

In '73 Bob Kingston asked me to stay behind with a small team attached to the DAO in Saigon for the purpose of hunting people who had deserted to the enemy. there were fewer than twenty on the list including Salt and Pepper. I decided that I was not interested and went home. There were quite a lot of deserters from among support troops in the big towns but these were people who were shacked up with a Madam Butterfly type and involved in black market criminality. The MPs had units that specialized in rounding them up and sending them to CONUS for trial. pl

Joe100

Thanks for this information on numbers. It seemed to me that it had to be small. Were these twenty known to still be alive in '73 or just known to have deserted? And I wonder if Webb had done any research on Salt and Pepper as a basis for parts of the story in "lost Soldiers". Can I assume he would have been able to access relevant info during his time at DOD and as SecNav?

turcopolier

joe100

These were people on wanted list in '73 and believed to be with enemy forces at the time. DIA was the repository of such records and had an office later to do the analysis on information from the field. IMO Webb would have had access to whatever they had as a courtesy to SECNAV. pl

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