Unbelievable news of the day. After a controversial prisoner exchange last week, the Taliban freed kidnapped Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo in exchange for 5 Taliban prisoners. Not included in the deal, however, was Mastrogiacomo’s translator, Ajmal Naqshbandi.
Naqshbandi was beheaded yesterday:
The deaths came as the Taliban announced it had beheaded Ajmal Naqshbandi, the interpreter for Daniele Mastrogiacomo, a reporter for the Italian daily La Repubblica.
The Afghan government confirmed the grisly murder.
Naqshbandi, Mastrogiacomo and a driver were kidnapped March 5 in southern Afghanistan.
The driver was beheaded. Mastrogiacomo was released March 19 in a heavily criticized swap for five Taliban militants.
The Taliban made a similar demand in return for the release of Naqshbandi, a freelance journalist as well as an interpreter. A Taliban spokesman said, “for the Afghan journalist, the government did not care.”
To borrow a phrase from John Edwards, there are two Italys. One that negotiates with terrorists for the release of their citizens and one that lets terrorists behead non-Italians who happen to be in the employ of major Italian companies.
The Afghan daily Arman-e-Millie editorialized a solution to this cycle of kidnappings, negotiations and beheadings:
“There has been no implementation of punishment for any criminal and killer Taliban who has been sentenced to heavy punishment by the judicial authorities,” it said. “From now on, criminal Taliban should be executed.”
Another Afghan paper (same link as above), Cheragh:
“criticized President Hamid Karzai’s government for failing to free Naqshbandi but going ahead with a deal to secure Mastrogiacomo’s freedom and save Italy’s fragile government from embarrassment. “Mr. Karzai, no doubt, you managed to save the Italian government from falling. But with regret, you could not save the life of an Afghan and someone who had voted for you,”.
Since we’re on the subject of the Italian government, The NY Post has a very good article today on Army Spc. Mario Lozano. Lozana will be tried in absentia next week in Italy for the friendly fire death of Italian security agent Nicola Calipari, who was in Iraq as part of a secret deal to secure the release of Italian reporter Giuliana Sgrena. An excerpt from the article:
Lozano said he realizes that his chances of becoming a cop, like his younger brother, Emiliano, who is with the 41st Precinct, are over. His marriage has broken up. He’s on medication that helps him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Lozano and his dad, Mario Sr., blame Sgrena, a correspondent for the Communist paper Il Manifesto, for their nightmare. They criticize her for not making sure that her vehicle’s whereabouts were known to the Army and then making a buck off the situation.
Sgrena, 57, was recently in New York promoting her book, “Friendly Fire: The Remarkable Story of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq, Rescued by an Italian Secret Service Agent, and Shot at by U.S. Forces.”
“I’m sure her life isn’t like mine,” said a bitter Lozano, who works for his dad’s construction business when he’s not pulling National Guard duty.
“She’s making money. She’s famous. Meanwhile, I gotta live with the fact that a guy got killed because he didn’t comply with orders and I was that guy who pulled the trigger.”