The Corner

Released Brits give a Press Conference

In a press conference just concluded in England, the recently released British sailors and marines cleared up several things. Right up front, the commander of the group said that no matter what we may have heard them say while in captivity, they were definitely in Iraqi waters when captured.

The senior Royal Marine officer shed light on the tactical situation: They were conducting the search of an unregistered transport vessel when they saw Iranian fast-boats approaching. They descended to their own boats, but were quickly surrounded by the Iranians, who came armed with heavy machine guns and RPGs. The sailors report that they were surrounded instantly and rammed several times; the Iranians trained their weapons on them and seemed very angry (“unstable” was a word one of the sailors used). It was the Royal Marine commander who realized that there was no option but to surrender – to fight back would have been suicide for many of them and would have caused an international crisis. Furthermore, the base ship HMS Cornwall could not have intervened to save them because the waters in which the incident occurred were too shallow. [Intervention was probably impracticable for other tactical reasons as well]. The sailors said several times that it was clear the Iranian operation had been well-prepared and had clear intent.

They soon found themselves bound and blindfolded and put up against a wall; when they heard weapons being cocked in the background, several of them thought they might be summarily executed. The sailors were blindfolded in solitary confinement almost the entire time. They were interrogated nightly, and told that if they didn’t admit wrongdoing and apologize they faced seven years in prison.

The female sailor was the particular target of abuse. She was told by her captors that all the rest of her comrades had been released, and for several days she thought she was alone in Iran.

In general, they were clearly angry at the Iranians, and lamented the whole ordeal as a “media stunt.”

Mario Loyola — Mr. Loyola, a former White House speechwriter and environmental adviser, is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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