Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Korean Hostage Crisis Day 25

Many developments as the Korean hostage crisis moves into its 25th day. After the conflicting reports of the release and then reimprisonment of two Korean hostages the Afghan government has banned all media from the city where direct negotiations with the Taliban have been taking place:

Marajudin Pathan, the governor of Ghazni province where the hostages were kidnapped on July 19, said the ban – which bars interviews, photography and videotaping – was imposed during the negotiations because the Taliban might exploit the media spotlight.

“It’s because the Taliban will take advantage and show off, so we don’t want to give them that chance,” Pathan said. “This is a terrorist group.”

Not only are they trying to hot dog for the cameras, but they are also spreading disinformation with the over the release of two hostages that initially proved to be false. Now the Korean government must have finally paid off the proper bribe and two hostages have been released. The two released hostages are Kim Gina, 32, and Kim Kyung-ja, 37. They have been taken to a US military base to be examined and will be returned to Korea. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception they will they receive in Korea. Will they be scorned or will they be heroes?

Here is why the Taliban says they released the hostages:

The purported Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi backed the speculation. He said, “Now that we have released the two women as a gesture of goodwill following demands from the international community and human rights organizations, the Afghan government should also now fulfill its responsibility and accept their (Taliban) demand for the release of their prisoners.”

He added, “Our negotiations with the Korean delegation will continue for the release of the rest of the hostages, but now we want the release of our men, who are languishing in Afghanistan jails.”

However, reports from Afghanistan say a huge ransom has been paid:

Despite the Taliban claim that the release of the two was a goodwill gesture, sources said the militants had received a huge ransom from the Korean side _ however, the exact amount remains unknown.

The Taliban is keeping the demands for prisoners alive because they are using it as a cover for the ransom payments they are receiving. They look less Islamic and more like common criminals if they are kidnapping people solely for money. Thus the Taliban needs to keep the prisoner swap charade going while the Korean government wants to keep the charade going as well in order to deflect blame towards the United States while they continue to pay increasingly large bribes to the Taliban. It will be interesting to see how many more weapons and explosives will brought into Afghanistan after the huge ransom was paid.

Some additional information that has come out is that the Korean government has stopped the US and Afghan governments from launching rescue operations, twice:

South Korean officials have twice blocked rescue missions to free 21 of their countrymen held by Taleban rebels amid concerns that Afghan military action could spark a bloodbath.

On one occasion Afghan and US troops were mobilized and ready to storm the Taleban positions. Separately, Afghan secret police were ready to arrest the families of the Taleban commanders involved as a way of applying pressure. But Korean officials vetoed the plans over fears that they would cause more bloodshed. […]

“The reason we have not launched a military operation is the Koreans repeatedly requested we don’t. They are sure they will solve this by talking face to face,” Ustad Merajuddin Pathan, the Governor of Ghazni province, said. (HT: Marmot)

The Koreans also stopped attempts to arrest family members of the kidnappers which would have been a great way to get leverage in the negotiations:

A senior intelligence source said: “We know who the Taleban commanders are and we wanted to arrest their families but the Koreans wouldn’t let us.”

All of this just confirms what I have stated before that despite the Korean governments attempts to blame the hostage crisis on the US, the American military and the Afghan government are doing more to free the hostages than the Korean government.

Despite all this, this is what the Korea Times has the nerve to say:

This demand is beyond what the Korean side can do as the United States and Afghan government hold the key. The release of two hostages will put pressure on the Korean government to persuade the U.S. and Afghan governments to do something to meet their demands. The United States, in particular, is asked to take a more proactive approach to ensure the safe return of the hostages.

There has been concern that the hostage crisis will be a protracted one. And in the process the possible sacrifice of more lives will generate public wrath, which will hugely burden the U.S as well as the Taliban. Should the U.S. continue to maintain a lukewarm attitude and sit idly by, it is feared that it will fan anti-American sentiment among the people because they believe that only the U.S. can solve the problem.

Totally ignoring the Taliban will not help settle the matter. The U.S. tacitly approved the swapping of an Italian female journalist for five Iraqi prisoners. The U.S. started the war in Afghanistan and induced South Korea to join it. So it needs to feel a strong sense of responsibility for this recent case. Saving innocent people is more important than ideologies or principles regarding war.

“Proactive Approach”? The US and the Afghan government has been the only ones taking a proactive approach in this whole crisis and has been stopped from acting by the Korean government. “The US started the war in Afghanistan?” Am I mistaken or did I see hijacked airplanes kill 3,000 Americans and cause significant damage across the east coast on 9/11? Also last I checked the Republic of Korea was a sovereign nation that could choose where it deploys its troops. The fact of the matter is that these Koreans would have been kidnapped if Korea had no troops in Afghanistan at all because they are foreigners. The last line is borderline racist because obviously the writer could care less about Afghan lives that would be lost by releasing a bunch of Taliban killers on the civilian population in Afghanistan.

I could go on and on about the absurdity of this article and the writer doesn’t even have the courage to put his name on it. What an absolute poor excuse for a newspaper the Korea Times. I can’t even remember the last time I have purchased a copy of that rag mag, but I know for sure I will never purchase one ever again. I don’t know how great writers like Michael Breen and Andrei Lankov can stand writing for that newspaper.

In other news the Times Online article goes on to say that the bus driver appears to have tipped off the Taliban of the unguarded Korean missionaries traveling on the road and has since been arrested. Also the Afghan government is claiming one of the Taliban mullah negotiators is in fact a Pakistani ISI agent. Surprise, Surprise.

Michelle Malkinmeanwhile asks where the human rights outcry over the hostage crisis is at. I just went to SHwebpageAmnesty International and there was nothing on the Korean hostage crisis on their front page, but there is a big orange graphic about closing Guantanamo Bay right below the other big graphic about human rights in Darfur. Just another example why this organization has no creditability when its equates Gitmo with Darfur and can’t even make front page news of the hostage crisis. If anything deserves its own big graphic on the Amnesty International webpage it is not Gitmo, but this hostage crisis.

I did dig around their webpage and did find this one document lecturing the Taliban for violating the Geneva Convention; like they really care. Of course on the document’s webpage their is another prominent link about closing down Gitmo. What a joke this organization is. They could care less about the violation of human rights by the Taliban and the North Korean regime while having close Gitmo links all over their webpage.

Anyway I’m glad the two hostages were released safely, but I also feel for the Afghan people that will now have to contend with a refinanced Taliban enemy that all indications appear is about to get a whole lot richer as more hostages are released for cash. Meanwhile I await the human rights outcry from SHAmnesty International. I could be waiting for quite some time.

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