Iraqi Special Operations Forces Rescue Kidnapped Boy
By Army Spc. Jeffrey A. Ledesma
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, May 14, 2009 Under the cover of night, an element of Iraqi special operations forces recovered a young kidnap victim being held for ransom in the Iraqi capital during an early-morning, Iraqi-led operation yesterday.
An Iraqi special operations forces battalion commander greets an 8-year-old boy at a May 13, 2009, meeting in Baghdad after soldiers rescued the boy from kidnappers who had held him for ransom for two days. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Operating under the authority of a warrant issued by Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Bureau, the Iraqi soldiers recovered the 8-year-old boy and arrested his captors in hopes of disrupting a kidnap-for-ransom cell operating in the Baghdad area.
During the Iraqi and U.S. intelligence-driven mission, the ground troops secured the hostage taker's house and questioned the residents suspected of working for the kidnap cell. After questioning the suspects, the soldiers then moved to the alleged criminal's workplace, where they subsequently apprehended him.
The soldiers who carried out the mission were determined to bring the child home to his family, according to the Iraqi commander who oversaw the operation. The boy was taken from his family May 11, starting two days of waiting for the family and two days of threats for the kidnapped child in an unfamiliar place. Although those days were painful, the father of the child said a houseful of relatives comforted his family throughout the ordeal. His extended family helped him stay calm while the Iraqi soldiers provided him with hope, he added.
After commanding his troops on the ground for hours, the battalion commander said he was overwhelmed with a sense of relief and happiness when he knew the boy was finally safe.
"I felt extremely happy, and at the same time, I felt like crying," the boy’s father said, describing how he felt when he was reunited with his son. "I gave thanks to God and thanks to the soldiers for bringing my son home."
The battalion commander in the Iraqi brigade said any terrorists in the area who think they are above the law will get an opportunity to know the strength the Iraqi counterterrorism forces possess, especially those who choose to involve innocent children.
The Iraqi commander expressed his empathy for the family’s situation. "I was very happy, because I am a father, too," he said. "We have been doing this job for six years now."
The Iraqi element’s coalition advisor said the soldiers’ experience and training were evident in the successful completion of the hostage-rescue operation.
"Hundreds of hours are spent on fire discrimination drills, honing the ability to make the correct decisions at the crisis point," a U.S. advisor to the mission added. "Tonight, the [Iraqi counterterrorism force] proved once again that they are excellent tacticians and completely capable of accomplishing the task required in their charter."
The Iraqi battalion commander said this is not the first time this counterterrorism element has brought home a kidnap victim, and because of their unyielding dedication to the people of Iraq, they stand ready to handle any situation that arises.
(Army Spc. Jeffrey A. Ledesma serves with Special Operations Task Force Central..)