Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Free Jack Idema Blogburst 2/14/2007

For my little two cents: Please keep praying...

As of today, it's been almost two weeks since anyone outside of Pulacharke Prison heard from Jack Idema, and four days since a reliable source emailed Cao the following, deeply disturbing, report from the Kabul Times. We'll quote the article in full:
(KABUL) Persistent rumors support an armed confrontation at Pul-e-Charki Prison in Afghanistan, which resulted in the death or serious injury of an American Citizen.

While the exact days are unclear, one unnamed source in the Afghan Ministry of Justice has stated an American held at Afghanistan's Central Prison was killed during a stand-off with government forces. Another source, in the paramilitary division of the Ministry of Justice has stated that although the American appears to be seriously wounded, he is still barricaded inside his prison area and holding off a large ANA, Afghanistan National Army, contingent sent to extract him by President Hamid Karzai.

Dead Americans
American casualties are climbing everyday in Afghanistan and Iraq. Most of those are military personnel, and some are DOD civilian contractors. That they are killed by Taleban and al-Qaeda insurgents goes in Hamid Karzai's favor. It means more sympathy to his cause, more aid, and more professionally trained foreign soldiers.

If an American was killed at Pulacharke by Karzai's ANA, or even wounded, Karzai could find himself facing a backlash of support, regardless of the reasons behind the event.

General Mohammed Tawab, the former security commander at Pul-e-Charki, which houses more that 3,000 prisoners, almost all without water or electricity, says his people have reported that "the ANA was ordered by the palace to fire on the American. I liked him, Mr. Jack was a very good person who helped Afghanistan in bad time. I do not agree with how he was dealt with."

That comment is the only time the American's name has ever been mentioned during inquiries, referring to Jonathan "Jack" Keith Idema, a former Green Beret who was arrested with two other Americans and several Afghans, for entering the country illegally in 2004, and running a private jail. During his two and half years in Afghanistan's most notorious prison, Idema has had more than his fair share of publicity, capturing headlines around the world as a mercenary, a freedom fighter, and most of all, a fraud. General Mohammed Kaiz at the Ministry of Justice claims "Mr. Jack freed our people, the terrorists hated him. They tried to kill him many times. The people of Bamiyan will miss his him and remember his courage." Bamiyan is a province dominated by the Hazara tribe in western Afghanistan. Kaiz would not comment on the actual fate of Idema, only offer his sympathy to Idema's family, quite possibly the only comment needed to sort out the mystery.

President Karzai's press secretary has refused to comment, simply saying, "I cannot give you any answers. This is an American matter. Afghans die every day and the world does not even know their names. One American dies and we get 500 calls to the palace. You people think you deserve to live more than Muslims."

He did augment his comments with the disclaimer that this was his personal view, "not Mr. Karzai's view, His Excellency has no opinion on this matter. Afghanistan will not tolerate Christian insolence.

The mystery deepens
Sources inside the National Police say they escorted the body of American from Pul-e-Charki to Bagram Air Base on September 25, 2007. The Ministry of Interior spokesman says it was a Nigerian prisoner, not the only American at Pul-e-Charki who is well cared for.

General Ezmerai of the ANA, still suffering from desertions and corruption, stated that "our American friend was not attacked by my forces and will not be attacked by my forces. This is a matter between the American Embassy and Mr. Jack."

Pul-e-Charki is not allowing foreign visitors this week, and reports of fires, hunger strikes by Afghan inmates, and gunfire and rocket propelled grenades fired into Idema's block have been confirmed by at least a dozen witnesses. From a distance, the private floor Idema was housed in shows evidence of extensive fires, bullet holes, and what appear to be rocket impacts.

Idema's weekly radio show from Pul-e-Charki Prison, often broadcast on ISAF and Coalition radio stations, and laced with anti-Karzai venom, did not endear him to the Karzai-Pashtun controlled government. If Idema was killed by Karzai's new National Army, it would be a sad but fitting end to Afghanistan's most controversial character.

He once said, when contacted after an assassination attempt which left at least six dead and five wounded, "reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated."

Hamid Karzai, already on shaky ground with a failing government, deteriorating security, and the loss of substantial ground to the Taliban resurgence, might want to give the press corps a formal statement before rumors spin out of control, not uncommon in Afghanistan.
So what do we know for sure? Sadly, very little. The Kabul Times is Afghanistan's oldest English-language newspaper, but doesn't have an online edition. Since this story hasn't been carried anywhere else, and since no one on the ground has been able to get any information, the situation remains desperately uncertain.

Then there are the obvious inconsistencies in the Kabul Times report:
  • Jack is reported as both barricaded in his compound and moved to Bagram Airbase.
  • The Afghan military (ANA) are reported as attacking Jack, but they strenuously deny this and their commander on the ground describes Idema as a 'friend'.
  • The date September 25, 2007 is mentioned, which makes no sense at all -- It seems odd, to say the least, that an established, English-language paper would get this detail wrong.
This much said, however, the last 'visual' we had of Jack showed him fighting off uniformed attackers with Molotov cocktails and a baseball bat. This would seem to tally with the Kabul Times' report of fighting in and around Jack's compound.

For now, and until we know anything definite, all any of us can do is keep Jack and his family in our thoughts and prayers. This is a very dark time indeed.

Finally, PLEASE NOTE: The SuperPatriots and Jack images on this site are used with WRITTEN COPYRIGHT PERMISSION and any use by any third party is subject to legal action by SuperPatriots.US.

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