NOT LICENSED TO KILL
German Special Forces in Afghanistan Let Taliban Commander Escape
By Susanne Koelbl and Alexander Szandar
German special forces had an important Taliban commander in their sights in Afghanistan. But he escaped — because the Germans were not authorized to use lethal force. The German government’s hands-tied approach to the war is causing friction with its NATO allies.
The wheat is lush and green in the fields of northern Afghanistan this spring. A river winding its way through the broad valley dotted with walled houses completes the picturesque scene. Behind one of these walls, not far from the town of Pol-e-Khomri, sits a man whose enemies, having named him a "target," would like to see dead. He is the Baghlan bomber.
The Taliban commander is regarded as a brutal extremist with excellent connections to terror cells across the border in Pakistan. Security officials consider him to be one of the most dangerous players in the region, which is under German command as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan. The military accuses him of laying roadside bombs and of sheltering suicide attackers prior to their bloody missions.
He is also thought to be behind one of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan’s history, the Nov. 6, 2007 attack on a sugar factory in the northwest province of Baghlan. The attack killed 79 people, including dozens of children and many parliamentarians and other politicians, as they celebrated the factory’s reopening.
Germany’s KSK special forces have been charged with capturing the terrorist, in cooperation with the Afghan secret service organization NDS and the Afghan army. The German elite soldiers were able to uncover the Taliban commander’s location. They spent weeks studying his behavior and habits: when he left his house and with whom, how many men he had around him and what weapons they carried, the color of his turban and what vehicles he drove.
At the end of March, they decided to act to seize the commander. Under the protection of darkness, the KSK, together with Afghan forces, advanced toward their target. Wearing black and equipped with night-vision goggles, the team came within just a few hundred meters of their target before they were discovered by Taliban forces.
The dangerous terrorist escaped. It would, however, have been possible for the Germans to kill him — but the KSK were not authorized to do so.
Go ahead and read the whole thing. Is there anyone who even played a soldier as a kid, who does not find this story ridiculously pathetic? Don’t get me wrong: the German Special Forces soldiers are likely very good and professional, but their superiors are another matter. Dennis Prager often says that the Germans learned the wrong lesson after World War 2: instead of learning of necessity to combat evil even in their own midst they learned that it is always wrong to fight. I could not agree more.
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