"A very successful tactic"

Kidnapping innocents and threatening to kill them in exchange for freeing terrorists, that is.

Newsweek, the magazine that got people killed when it published a bogus story about US troops flushing a Koran at Gitmo, has gained access to several Taliban commanders. Through these commanders it has learned about the 21 South Korean hostages the Taliban continues to hold in Ghazni, Afghanistan. The four-page article is fascinating and worth a read, in that it details the Taliban’s ongoing campaign of brutality against civilians of all backgrounds, and the impressive access that Newsweek has gained. It’s a pity that Newsweek’s reporters didn’t call in the US military to help trace out the Talibanis’ satellite phone calls. Evidently it’s too much to expect basic humanity of MSM reporters anymore.

In an interview with Britain’s Channel 4 news last month, Dadullah called kidnapping “a very successful policy.” The insurgents have certainly been actively engaged in it. Besides the Koreans, the Taliban have kidnapped at least 41 Afghan civilians and killed at least 23 of them, while 18 remain missing, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which called the Taliban’s kidnapping policy a “war crime.” Another Taliban group is still holding a German hostage in Wardak province, just north of Kabul, after having executed his German co-worker last week. When Abdullah’s group first heard of the kidnapping of the two Germans, it contacted the hostage takers in Wardak hoping that that insurgent group would try to get commander Daro Khan freed in exchange for the Germans. But the Taliban unit holding the Germans refused to cooperate.

The Dadullah quoted above is this guy:

One of the freed Taliban commanders, Mansor Dadullah, is now directing suicide bombings and other attacks against Afghan and American forces from his redoubt on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

He was freed in the last hostage go-round, and he’s out there planning more attacks. The Karzai government has learned its lesson and doesn’t want to cut a deal in this case that would free a whole lot more Dadullahs.

But the South Koreans, understandably wanting their hostages returned safely, don’t seem to care if getting them back in a swap means that more Talibanis are freed to resume the war again. It’s an awful situation, but as we all ought to have learned by now, appeasing these animals only makes things worse. Rather than seeing that plain truth, the South Koreans seem to be triangulating between us and the Taliban.

Not surprisingly, Karzai is under intense pressure not to give in again. But the South Korean government is pleading with him and the U.S. to “use flexibility” in dealing with the Taliban’s demands. Seoul and the Korean public clearly favor a deal. But this time Karzai seems to be siding with his allies in the belief that striking such an agreement would only encourage more Taliban abductions, turning kidnapping into a Taliban growth industry. “I think as a principle we shouldn’t encourage kidnapping by accepting their demand,” says the president’s spokesman, Humayun Hamidzada.

“Flexibility” means “let’s make a deal,” and while the strong desire to free these young people is beyond understandable, freeing them in a deal will — you can count on it — jeopardize many more lives in the future. The freed Talibanis will return to the battlefield. There will be more hostages seized, turned into pawns, and murdered if the thugs don’t get what they want.

Honestly, if it’s not the Hyundai corruption case or the South Koreans triangulating against us with North Korea, it’s a situation like this, where Seoul appears to be far more concerned with its own short-term interests than the world’s long term interests. South Korea has already gotten Washington to rule out the use of force, so the terrorists know that there won’t be an Entebbe-style raid on them. That weakens Karzai’s bargaining position, which may increase the danger to the hostages. The long term picture clearly doesn’t favor putting more Taliban fighters out on the streets in exchange for the hostages, both because it frees terrorists from captivity and because it encourages more deployment of this “successful tactic.” But that’s where the “flexibility” that Seoul wants will inevitably lead.