Not bungled

By Geoffrey Paul
October 12, 2010

I wish the media could find a gradation between “bungled” and “successful”. It is highly unlikely that Linda Norgrove, the British aid worker taken hostage in Afghanistan, was killed in a “bungled” rescue attempt, as so many of Tuesday’s papers were reporting. Hostage rescues are highly risky enterprises, taking place at close quarters in settings where the captors have the upper hand from the outset. It was a dreadful and tragic accident, a consequence of a carefully considered political decision that the rescue should be attempted. Israel will remain forever renowned for the success and amazing skill and courage of the Entebbe hostage rescue. But she, too, has moumted rescue operations - Maalot, the Savoy Hotel (Tel Aviv) come to mind - in which there have been tragic losses of life, including civilians caught in crossfire. Brave men attempred to rescue Ms Norgrove. They failed. On occasion that will happen.



Wed, 10/13/2010 - 10:09

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Thank you Geoffrey.

The way I see it when someone is taken hostage by people like that the authorities have three options:

1) Let them rot
2) Give in to the terrorists' demands
3) Attempt a rescue

Of these number 2 is the worst possible option. It encourages future kidnappings and rewards the terrorists' strategy.

If the location of the victim is known then I think 3 is the only viable option, with all the risks entailed.

It is tragic and awful that this operation didn't succeed and that Mrs Norgrove didn't survive. But it is better to try and fail than not to try at all.

I think Cameron made the right call, and in spite of the fact that it failed people may now think twice about kidnapping aid workers.


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