July 17, 2009
In the aftermath of a US soldier’s abduction by Afghan Taliban forces, the US military is disbursing leaflets in two towns near particularly dangerous areas, which threaten villagers with the prospect of being “targeted” or “hunted” if they do not return the soldier safe and sound, CBS News reports. The leaflet has a picture of a languid looking US soldier hanging his head on one side, and reads “If you do not free the American soldier, then…”; when the card is flipped over, there is a picture of soldiers breaking down the door of small stone hut and a caption that reads, “…then you will be targeted.”
[efoods]The leaflet is one of two kinds that were scattered about the villages. The other is reported to be far less threatening and simply asks for any information anyone may have on the soldier’s whereabouts, according to the CBS report.
CBS also confirmed with Capt. Elizabeth Mathias that the leaflets were indeed printed at the Bagram Air Base and distributed throughout the two villages, however she claims that the statement reads “…then you will be hunted,” as if being “hunted” is somehow better than being “targeted.” From CBS News:
The new leaflet represents a broader, direct warning to local people in the region where the U.S. soldier was seized. Villagers from near the Paktika-Ghazni border told CBS News the papers were found stuck in trees and littering roofs in the area.
The question is, will its stern message help win the missing soldier’s freedom, or just antagonize the local people who could help, or hurt, that effort.
The CBS account is in stark contrast to the new US strategy in Afghanistan under Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, which aims to win the goodwill of Afghan villagers–not just annihilate Taliban militants–especially in rural areas more prone to attracting a Taliban presence.