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RIP Sultan Munadi

Sultan Munadi, a student on leave from his studies in Germany who worked as an interpreter for The New York Times, was killed in a commando raid. Munadi, along with his colleague, Times reporter Stephen Farrell, had been taken hostage by the Taliban this weekend after the two reporters attempted to investigate the Kunduz air strike that killed at least 120 Afghans. A British soldier died attempting to free Farrell and Munadi. It appears that the soldiers shot Munadi as he tried to tell them he was a journalist.

As you’ll notice, I didn’t write anything on the capture of Farrell and Munadi, in an attempt to learn from the David Rohde episode. My policy is not to reveal any identifying information about kidnappings — civilian or military — when I hear of them, at least until some official release indicates the need for secrecy is no longer life-and-death. Sometimes I think the greater part of valor is not to report anything at all. I don’t know if this is the right policy. It’s predicated on the do-no-harm principle. I’d like to know what you think of it. 

Update, Sept. 11: ISAF put out this statement:

2009-09-CA-694

Statement on the Passing of Sultan M. Munadi

KABUL, Afghanistan (September 11) — The International Security Assistance Force, (ISAF) wishes to express its deepest sympathies to the family of Sultan M. Munadi. We also convey our condolences to the greater Afghan journalist community of which Mr. Munadi was a respected and esteemed member. He will be sorely missed.

Along with another New York Times journalist Stephen Farrell, Sultan M. Munadi was kidnapped by insurgents on September 5. An extensively planned military operation to rescue both Mr. Farrell and Mr. Munadi was conducted by Afghan and ISAF forces in the middle of the night on September 9.

During the operation on the compound where the two hostages were being held, an extensive firefight occurred between the insurgents and the military forces. Early on in the exchange of fire, a British service member was killed in close proximity of the military aircraft he had extracted from. After Mr. Farrell was found by our forces, the death of Mr. Munadi was confirmed. Under constant fire from the insurgents and to avoid receiving more casualties, the military forces extracted from the site.

Mr. Munadi’s passing is a sad reminder of the constant dangers faced by the media in Afghanistan. Echoing the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, ISAF calls for insurgents to respect the rights of reporters to accomplish their duties and be treated as neutral parties in any conflict.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman

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