Reporter freed in daring rescue

A New York Times reporter and his interpreter who were held captive for four days by the Taliban has been rescued by "commandos" according to the newspaper:

An Afghan journalist who spoke to villagers in the area said that civilians, including women and children, were also killed in the firefight to free the journalists. That report could not be independently verified, and details of the operation itself were sketchy.

A British commando was killed in the raid, The Associated Press quoted a military official as saying.

Mr. Farrell and Mr. Munadi were abducted on Saturday while they were reporting the aftermath of NATO airstrikes on Friday that exploded two fuel tankers hijacked by Taliban militants. Afghan officials have said up to 90 people, including many civilians, were killed in the attack, which NATO officials are now investigating.

In a brief telephone call about 7:30 p.m. New York time on Tuesday, Mr. Farrell told Susan Chira, the foreign editor of The Times: "I'm out! I'm free!"

Leave aside politics for a moment and first, congratulate the incredible bravery and professionalism of the soldiers who risked their lives to free Mr. Farrell. And then, be thankful that Farrell was rescued from the clutches of our enemies, mindful of the death of his translator who, according to Farrell's account in the Eric Schmitt story, may have been killed by friendly fire:

Mr. Farrell said as he and Mr. Munadi ran outside, he heard voices. "There were bullets all around us. I could hear British and Afghan voices."

At the end of a wall, Mr. Farrell said Mr. Munadi went forward, shouting: "Journalist! Journalist!" but dropped in a hail of bullets. "I dived in a ditch," said Mr. Farrell, who said he did not know whether the shots had come from allied or militant fire.

After a minute or two, Mr. Farrell, who holds dual Irish-British citizenship, said he heard more British voices and shouted, "British hostage!" The British voices told him to come over. As he did, Mr. Farrell said he saw Mr. Munadi.

"He was lying in the same position as he fell," Mr. Farrell said. "That's all I know. I saw him go down in front of me. He did not move. He's dead. He was so close, he was just two feet in front of me when he dropped."

It it was friendly fire - by no means a certainty - there really wasn't anything else the commandos could have done. All they saw was an Agfhan coming out from behind a wall where the enemy was shooting. And in a firefight like that, you don't stop to ask questions. Sultan's death was a tragedy, no matter who fired the shots.

The Times squelched the story of Farrell's kidnapping, not wanting to "raise the temperature" of the situation according to executive editor Bill Keller. Other media outlets apparently followed suit.

A fine piece of work by our allies.




A New York Times reporter and his interpreter who were held captive for four days by the Taliban has been rescued by "commandos" according to the newspaper:

An Afghan journalist who spoke to villagers in the area said that civilians, including women and children, were also killed in the firefight to free the journalists. That report could not be independently verified, and details of the operation itself were sketchy.

A British commando was killed in the raid, The Associated Press quoted a military official as saying.

Mr. Farrell and Mr. Munadi were abducted on Saturday while they were reporting the aftermath of NATO airstrikes on Friday that exploded two fuel tankers hijacked by Taliban militants. Afghan officials have said up to 90 people, including many civilians, were killed in the attack, which NATO officials are now investigating.

In a brief telephone call about 7:30 p.m. New York time on Tuesday, Mr. Farrell told Susan Chira, the foreign editor of The Times: "I'm out! I'm free!"

Leave aside politics for a moment and first, congratulate the incredible bravery and professionalism of the soldiers who risked their lives to free Mr. Farrell. And then, be thankful that Farrell was rescued from the clutches of our enemies, mindful of the death of his translator who, according to Farrell's account in the Eric Schmitt story, may have been killed by friendly fire:

Mr. Farrell said as he and Mr. Munadi ran outside, he heard voices. "There were bullets all around us. I could hear British and Afghan voices."

At the end of a wall, Mr. Farrell said Mr. Munadi went forward, shouting: "Journalist! Journalist!" but dropped in a hail of bullets. "I dived in a ditch," said Mr. Farrell, who said he did not know whether the shots had come from allied or militant fire.

After a minute or two, Mr. Farrell, who holds dual Irish-British citizenship, said he heard more British voices and shouted, "British hostage!" The British voices told him to come over. As he did, Mr. Farrell said he saw Mr. Munadi.

"He was lying in the same position as he fell," Mr. Farrell said. "That's all I know. I saw him go down in front of me. He did not move. He's dead. He was so close, he was just two feet in front of me when he dropped."

It it was friendly fire - by no means a certainty - there really wasn't anything else the commandos could have done. All they saw was an Agfhan coming out from behind a wall where the enemy was shooting. And in a firefight like that, you don't stop to ask questions. Sultan's death was a tragedy, no matter who fired the shots.

The Times squelched the story of Farrell's kidnapping, not wanting to "raise the temperature" of the situation according to executive editor Bill Keller. Other media outlets apparently followed suit.

A fine piece of work by our allies.