Late in February, an ISIS operative was captured in Iraq by U.S. Special Operations forces. For reasons I do not understand, U.S. Central Command said the unidentified militant will only be held for a brief time. Col. Pat Ryder, who is Centcom’s spokesman, would not elaborate on any details, and that is something I respect. I am also glad to hear that the Spec Force guys have been successful in their mission since 200 of them headed over to the Great Sandbox in December. However, the question that comes to my mind is, if the operative who was described by the New York Times as a “significant” member of ISIS, why will he only be detained for what Ryder describes as “a short time?”
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced in December of 2015 that the large team, which is comprised of an intel cell, aviation support, and an assault force were going to be based in Irbil, which is located in Northern Iraq. This is another thing I don’t understand. When I was in Iraq, I had to be so careful about discussing travel plans over the phone with my husband that we communicated through a code we had devised that included the names and birthdays of my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law. I just don’t get disclosing any aspect of the special team’s location to the world at large, and certainly not our enemies.
Nevertheless, the purpose of this piece is mostly to celebrate some victories that we can now know about without compromising Operational Security, so I’ll press on. In October of 2015, there was a rescue of several dozen prisoners, most of whom were Kurdish, who were being held by ISIS in northern Iraq. It did come with a price, and that was the death of Army Master Sgt Joshua Wheeler, who was a Delta Force Commando. May God rest his soul and comfort his family. I do know this from having been amongst Kurds while in Iraq: you’ll rarely find a more grateful people, and I am sure his name will become an honored part of their history.
Backing up a bit further in time to May of 2015, in eastern Syria there was a Delta Force raid that resulted in the death of an ISIS commander by the name of Abu Sayyaf. His wife was detained, and has been charged by the Justice Department of the Kurdistan Regional government with conspiring to kill Kayla Mueller. Ms. Mueller, who was 26 when she died, was an American aid worker and was kidnapped by ISIS. She was held by the Sayyafs as a sex slave, and was repeatedly raped by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the fellow who describes himself as the emir of ISIS. I am glad for Kayla’s sake that at least one of her tormentors has been captured, and may justice on her behalf be served well.
Our commandos are on what is known as a “kill or capture mission,” and here are two examples of them doing just that. May we not forget that they are still fighting for our freedom, and paying for it with their blood.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner