Sometimes they get there in time:
MOSUL, Iraq — They’ve uncovered caches of enemy weapons and flushed out a variety of shady characters since coming to Iraq last fall.
But the most astonishing find of the war for several Tacoma-area soldiers turned up this week in a secret room behind a bookshelf in a northeast Mosul basement.
Following a tip from an Iraqi source, Stryker troops rescued two handcuffed and hooded citizens from a squalid concrete-block room.
One of the captives was an Iraqi government official who works closely with American forces. He had been missing 58 days, said officials with the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division from Fort Lewis.
The other was a wealthy merchant whose family was close to paying a $150,000 ransom, officials said.
A quick glance around the Legacy Media websites turns up nothing on this.
Isn’t this news? An Iraqi government official who had been kidnapped 58 days ago was rescued. And another kidnapping victim, as well. What sort of good news in Iraq will it take to make headlines?
Put another way…If an Iraqi government official had been kidnapped or killed today, do you think it might have made headlines?
The early-afternoon patrol started ordinarily enough, with 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company working the streets for information. The heat kept most people indoors, but the soldiers started talking with a man who mentioned a friend in the rental property business who had a suspicious tenant, said Lt. Ryan Turner.
Two squads of soldiers rolled to the house and stopped the tenant as he tried to slip away.
“I gave him an ultimatum and said if he doesn’t help us, I was going to take him away, which I really couldn’t do,” said Turner, 24, of Lakewood.
The tenant didn’t call the platoon leader’s bluff. Instead, he disclosed that there were people of interest in the basement, though he denied any involvement.
Sgt. Jared McNulty took his squad downstairs and at first didn’t believe anyone was there. The room was too small, with just enough space for several containers on the floor and a bookshelf against the wall.
But when the tenant persisted, the soldiers went back down for a closer look. McNulty said they noticed a fresh coat of paint on the walls and on a panel behind the bookshelf. Like a scene from a “Hardy Boys” book, they pulled back the shelf and started exposing what turned out to be a square opening.
Inside was a roughly 10-by-10-foot room just tall enough to stand in, with four U.S. Army cots and a bag stuffed with black masks, keys, chains, locks and 20 sets of handcuffs. The air was humid, and up to 4 inches of standing water covered the floor.
“The smell was horrible in there; that’s the first thing that hit you,” said McNulty, 23, of Tumwater.
The two cuffed, hooded prisoners were sheepish at first, repeating “Don’t shoot” as they kneeled at the entrance. The sound of footsteps for them had heralded a move to another location, or perhaps an even worse fate.
But their fear quickly turned to joy, and they were taken to get food and water, contact their families and receive medical treatment. They reported being tortured every day, Turner and Hoogendorn said.
Oops. I see. This is going to make headlines. If it does, here’s my guess at what those headlines will be:
U.S. Soldiers wrongly threaten Iraqi civilian with arrest
They did so. They rescued two kidnap victims because they did.