COLORADO SPRINGS (AP) – An American special forces member died in a raid that rescued a Colorado Springs doctor from Afghan insurgents.
The Pentagon said Sunday evening that a special operations raid freed Dr. Dilip Joseph from Taliban captors. Joseph was working in Afghanistan for Colorado Springs charity Morning Star Development.
“The special operators who conducted this raid knew they were putting their lives on the line to free a fellow American from the enemy’s grip,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement. “They put the safety of another American ahead of their own, as so many of our brave warriors do every day and every night.”
Morning Star Development, a 10-year-old Colorado Springs faith-based charity focused on Afghanistan, confirmed on its website that the rescued doctor, Dilip Joseph of Colorado Springs, was among three of the charity’s workers kidnapped Wednesday in Kabul.
The other two staff members were freed after negotiations. Joseph, Morning Star’s medical adviser, was rescued by American and Afghan troops, the military said in a news release.
“Today’s mission exemplifies our unwavering commitment to defeating the Taliban,” Marine Gen. John R. Allen, who commands American troops in Afghanistan said in a statement. “I’m proud of the American and Afghan forces that planned, rehearsed and successfully conducted this operation.”
The Springs nonprofit said it didn’t pay ransom or reach other concessions to secure the release of two workers or to gain safety for Joseph.
Morning Star said the three were driving in eastern Kabul Province when they were stopped by armed men. They were captured and taken to a mountainous region 50 miles from the Pakistan border, the charity said.
“Contact between the hostages, their captors and Morning Star’s crisis-management team (operating from Kabul and Colorado Springs) began almost immediately and continued in an on-again, off-again pattern until early Saturday evening (Afghanistan time),” the charity said on its website.
After two Morning Star hostages were released, the military moved in and freed Joseph, a physician who works on Morning Star’s medical outreach projects in Afghanistan.
“He was then taken to Bagram Airfield north of Kabul,” Morning Star said. “Although he was reported to be in good condition and uninjured during the rescue, he will receive precautionary examinations and debriefing before returning to his Colorado Springs home, probably within a few days. His family was notified of his safe rescue very shortly after he was freed.”
The military said troops were called in when it appeared Joseph’s captors might kill him.
“Allen ordered the mission when intelligence showed that Joseph was in imminent danger of injury or death,” the NATO command in Afghanistan said in a news release.
Morning Star has a small presence in Colorado Springs, where its headquarters had seven employees in 2011. It is one of the lower-profile faith-based organizations in the city.
But the small charity founded by Daniel Batchelder of Colorado Springs has a huge effect overseas.
In 2009 alone, the charity, which operations on an annual budget of about $1 million, served an estimated 38,000 patients in Afghanistan.
A three-year-veteran of Morning Star, Joseph frequently traveled to Afghanistan to oversee the charity’s work.
“Morning Star Development is grateful beyond words for the assistance and support of many people and organizations during this event,” the charity said. “Due to security concerns, some cannot be named, but their help will never be forgotten. Among these who cannot be named we include all of the courageous members of the U.S. military who successfully rescued Mr. Joseph as they risked their own lives doing so.”