The first instinct of any family is to do anything possible to save their loved ones. For individual families it is often better to cooperate with captors to obtain some chance negotiating a release than to press them unremittingly. For society as a whole the incentives go the other way: yielding to intimidation only leads to worse. Evil men must be pursued so that they may never harm again. Unfortunately individuals must pay the price when evil strikes back.
News that the bodies of two soldiers who may have been taken captive on June 16th were found today, allegedly in a mutilated condition suggests their captors could not take them far. A group describing itself as linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq "claimed without offering proof that it had kidnapped two American soldiers, as thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops looked for the missing men in an area known as 'the triangle of death.'" If the past is any guide, this group's preference would have been to parade them on television and make political demands for an American withdrawal, or else they would have killed at the scene of the first clash. That the terrorists had to forgo their customary media carnival can only mean they found it too dangerous to go further, like a predator who must drop his victim because the beaters were right behind them.
A Fox News reports provides background on operations in the area:
BAGHDAD, Iraq — A key Al Qaeda in Iraq leader described as the group's "religious emir" was killed in a U.S. airstrike hours before two American soldiers went missing and in the same area, the military said Tuesday.
Mansour Suleiman Mansour Khalifi al-Mashhadani, or Sheik Mansour, and two foreign fighters were killed as they tried to flee in a vehicle near the town of Youssifiyah, in the so-called Sunni "Triangle of Death."
U.S. coalition forces had been tracking al-Mashhadani for some time, American military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said in announcing his death. He said al-Mashhadani was an Iraqi, 35 to 37 years old, and that one of the men killed with him was an Al Qaeda cell leader identified as Abu Tariq
The Fox News report raises the intriguing possibility that the attack on the checkpoint was made in order to gain hostages for a breakout or at least to distract from the pursuit of cells related to Sheik Mansour. But that's speculation. Knowing that we can do no more for these soldiers my most earnest wish is for the pursuit continue. Rescue is now beyond hope. But not retribution.