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Who Holds Captured U.S. Soldier in Afghanistan? Hard to Say

5 years ago
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Apart from a brief statement ("Missing U.S. soldier in Afghanistan has been determined to have been captured by militants -- we're doing everything we can to recover him"), the U.S. command in Afghanistan is keeping mum about the seizure of an American soldier on Tuesday.
According to Afghan officials, the soldier was captured in Paktika Province along the rugged, mountainous border with Pakistan. Unconfirmed reports said a Taliban commander was holding the soldier and might consider a prisoner swap.
Retrieving the unnamed prisoner, by force or negotiation, may be a difficult process, according to intelligence officials and experts on the insurgency.
The conflict is being fought by hundreds of scattered militant bands and groups, often under the fragile direction of competing warlords, forming what Stanford University historian Robert D. Crews has described as "multiple and distinct insurgencies,'' which are themselves split along tribal and clan lines.
Not all of these groups are aligned with or even friendly to the nominal Taliban leader, Mullah Omar.
One of the most notorious warlords, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is described by Pakistan officials as "a power-hungry, cunning and a ruthless fanatic'' who has often switched allegiances.
Others are more benign. Last year, American reporter Nir Rosen survived a short-term embed with the Taliban. And two weeks ago, New York Times reporter David Rohde escaped from Taliban custody in Pakistan.
Seth Jones, an Afghanistan expert with the RAND Corp., has a more complete explanation of the insurgency's complex here.
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