Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Multinational forces try to locate missing soldiers - before Al-Qaeda uses them for propaganda

I hadn't commented on the news that Al-Qaeda in Iraq had captured three of our soldiers simply because (1) I've been busy and (2) it's been plastered all over the news and blogosphere by people with far more interesting things to say than me.

However, if you want an honest, on-the-ground update as to what is currently happening in the search for our soldiers, look no further than the excellent Bill Roggio:

The U.S has poured over 4,000 troops into the region, and are back by an unspecified number of Iraqi Army, police and tribal allies throughout eastern Anbar and Karbala. An American military intelligence source informed us the Anbar Salvation Council has devoted assets in the region and are working tribal and insurgent contacts to develop leads in the case. "Every asset has been brought to bear in the hunt for the missing troops," according to a Multinational Forces Iraq press release, "including search dogs, trucks with speakers, unmanned aerial vehicles, law enforcement advisers, and both U.S. and Iraqi troops." Pamphlets have been dropped via air and phone tip lines have been established.

There is an urgency in finding the three soldiers before Al-Qaeda can distribute footage of the soldiers for propaganda purposes:

Al Qaeda in Iraq mocked the U.S. efforts to recover their soldiers, and stated the efforts may in fact endanger their lives. While al Qaeda has claimed it has captured the soldiers, it has yet to release photographs, video or audio to support the claim.

Al Qaeda will want to broadcast footage of the captured soldiers both to demoralize the U.S. public and to reap the rewards of a major propaganda coup. The U.S. will likely have Internet access locked down in the region to prevent the tape from being transmitted digitally, but an individual courier should eventually be able to slip the cordon. If the kidnap cell did not bring its own recording equipment, it will either push to a safe house to make the recording, or a team will press to reach it. Either act can lead to exposing the location of the soldiers. But their chances of survival decreases as soon as the tape is made.

All emphasis mine.

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