Startling details of the daring rescue mission that ended in the death of the British aid worker Linda Norgrove can be revealed today, as a joint US-UK investigation into the incident gets under way.
The Guardian has learned that a US special forces soldier who is believed to have accidentally killed Norgrove is likely to face disciplinary action after failing to inform his commanding officers that he had used a grenade until long after the event.
Sources in Kabul and London have confirmed that during the assault on the kidnappers’ hideaway the hostage broke away from her captors and lay in a foetal position to avoid harm.
The soldier from the elite Seal Team Six special forces unite failed to see Norgrove and tossed his fragmentation grenade in, which exploded next to her.
It has also emerged today that:
• US forces monitored the kidnappers using a network of informers and drones
• Conversations were intercepted indicating Norgrove could be executed “like the Russian” or shipped across the Pakistan border
• British officers working with the Americans were kept informed of the intelligence at all times
• The entire mission was relayed on to six widescreen televisions back at the command centre
Norgrove’s death was first attributed to an insurgent detonating a suicide vest – an account that was reported around the world.
The use of a fragmentation grenade was first discovered when the taskforce commander in charge of the mission reassessed surveillance video of the attack and saw the Seal toss the grenade into the compound four seconds before the blast.