“Apologies for our actions, but many thanks for having it in your hearts to let us go free.”

Tim Montgomerie, Editor of BritainAndAmerica.com writes:

Navyhostagesreleased_2The fifteen British sailors are on their way home for Easter and thank God for that.  Now that they are safe, however, it is important to start asking some searching questions about all of those propaganda interviews that they took part in.  The things they said, the waving and the smiling have been great gifts to the Iranian regime. They have given some credibility to Tehran’s claim that they did illegally enter Iranian waters and their remarks have contributed to the idea that this is a regime that is, at least, reasonable.  Faye Turney’s words were particularly generous to her captors: "Apologies for our actions, but many thanks for having it in your hearts to let us go free."  The Wall Street Journal reminds us of the true nature of Ahmadinejad’s regime:

"While the release of the Brits is cause for celebration, we hope the world won’t forget those who aren’t getting out–the myriad political prisoners, often democrats, in Iran’s dungeons. These are the truly courageous people the West has paid too little attention to as it focuses on diplomacy and business with Iran. Given his regime’s persecution of Iran’s tiny Christian community, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s invocation of Easter as a reason for freeing the sailors is particularly offensive."

Now – let me be clear – I’m not criticising our individual sailors.  It may be that their orders are to co-operate with their captors in these situations.  As today’s Daily Mail suggests, "modern military training now advises personnel to cooperate with captors at their discretion."  "But," asks The Mail, "has that shift in doctrine gone too far?"  My answer to that question is a definite ‘yes’.

In terms of next steps I can only commend the advice of National Review:

"[Britain] should begin by making sure the captives repudiate their confessions and denounce their captors once they’re back home. We don’t need to hear how nice the food is in Tehran. Next, Britain should have the 15 demand compensation for their illegal capture and treatment. It must send an absolutely unambiguous message that its sailors and marines were never in Iranian waters, and that it has made no concessions concerning the location of the border. (Sending some patrol missions back to the area, backed up by overwhelming firepower, would punctuate the point nicely.) The U.S., for its part, must hold the five Iranian agents it captured in Iraq for a long time, lest it appear that there has been a swap."

Other newspaper reactions to the whole affair are listed below.

The Sun Says: "It is a huge relief to see an end to the Iran captives crisis, which worsened the longer it went on.  But the sight of the illegally-detained British forces thanking Iranian tyrants for their freedom will sicken the nation.  Smirking President Ahmadinejad milked the humiliating moment for all it was worth.  The ratings were paraded in cheap new suits and had to grovel in public for his blessing. Their 13-day ordeal should soon be over.  But nobody emerges from this crisis with credit.  The Royal Navy failed to protect the patrol — or spot boatloads of heavily-armed Republican Guards racing to ambush it.  Britain’s official response was at times uncertain and, in the case of Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, downright embarrassing.  The UN emerged in its true colours — divided and ineffectual.  The real villains are the Iranians who grabbed a non-aggressive British crew acting legally under a UN mandate."

Daily Mail: "There was something almost surreal about the whole affair: the smiling and uniformed captives (in stark and no doubt deliberate contrast to the orangesuited Muslim detainees in Guantanamo Bay); the civilian suits they were given for their release; the exchange of courtesies with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; the captives thanking him for his ‘kindness’; his condescending speech, offering his ‘pardon’ as a ‘gift’ to the British people to celebrate Easter and Mohammed’s birthday; his patronising remark, referring to Faye Turney: ‘Why don’t they respect the values of families in the West?’; and finally, Mr Blair’s assurance that we bear the Iranian people ‘no ill will’.  It is too soon to know exactly what Britain threatened or what pressures the captives had to endure.  But doesn’t it look at first sight as if Iran, perhaps the greatest current threat to world peace, has simply been playing with Britain, testing our resolve – and finding, in the midst of an unpopular war, that it barely exists?"

The Telegraph: "The Iranian president has rightly been demonised in the West for his call for Israel’s destruction and his pursuit of a nuclear weapons programme in defiance of the UN. Yet yesterday he was able to adopt the moral high ground, admonishing the Government while treating graciously those who had been acting on its behalf at the head of the Gulf.  This bodes badly for the West’s relations with Teheran over a number of acutely difficult problems during the coming months: its defiance of UN sanctions imposed because of a refusal to halt uranium enrichment; its heightened meddling in Iraq; and its continued support for terrorist movements – Hizbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and elements of Fatah – vowed to Israel’s destruction. During the recent crisis, Iran has yielded not a jot on any of these matters. Rather, the approval it has enjoyed on the Islamic "street" for humiliating an old enemy is likely to make it even more intransigent."

Investor’s Business Daily: "Within days of the sailors’ being nabbed inside Iraqi territorial waters, British media and diplomats were already pointing angry fingers of blame. No, not at Iran and Ahmadinejad, but at President Bush, who had the effrontery to remind Iran the British sailors were on a U.N.-sanctioned mission and demanded their release.  By Wednesday it was as if nothing had happened, with Ahmadinejad joking on TV with the prisoners, playing the genial host as his captives apologized for inconveniencing Iran.  Ahmadinejad even chastised Blair for sending Faye Turney — a mother — into harm’s way. "How can you justify seeing a mother away from her home, her children? Why don’t they respect family values in the West?"  Not only does Iran’s kooky leader come away looking magnanimous, but actually concerned to boot. All this from a man who committed an act of war, funds and trains terrorist murderers and still pursues nuclear weapons so he can obliterate his neighbor, Israel."

National Review (John O’Sullivan, Editor at Large): "The Brits are developing a quasi-pacifist European sensibility on military affairs, they are “entering Europe” psychologically as well as economically. That puts them at a disadvantage in conflict with a revolutionary Iran: "Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight. But Roaring Bill (who killed him) thought it right". If that is so, a number of oddities about the crisis become much clearer: the Royal Navy’s feeble rules of engagement which in effect say “Hey, you can’t do that — someone might get killed”; the willingness of the sailors to repeat Iranian propaganda — they apparently received no training in resisting pressure in captivity; the assumption that the sole aim of diplomacy must be to free the captives at almost any cost; the widespread belief that Britain has no options against a poorer and less powerful nation like Iran; and the overriding sense of fatalism that colors both government policy and press comment in the British capital. If these beliefs were true, that would be some excuse — but they are false."

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37 Responses to “Apologies for our actions, but many thanks for having it in your hearts to let us go free.”

  1. malcolm says:

    I’ve never heard of the Investors Business Daily. Is it an influential newspaper?
    I’m interested to know which British diplomats and media ‘pointed angry fingers of blame….at President Bush.’ Any ideas?

  2. Alan S says:

    I hope Faye Turney is thoroughly asahamed of saying those words. Surely she did not have to go that far.

  3. Tim Montgomerie says:

    Malcolm: I don’t have a full answer to your question but I remember ITV1’s Sunday Edition suggesting Bush’s call for the hostages to be released was very unhelpful.

  4. Richard says:

    Quite a contrast with British soldiers captured in WWII who would either have tried to escape or remain silent.

  5. davod says:

    ‘Ahmadinejad even chastised Blair for sending Faye Turney — a mother — into harm’s way. “How can you justify seeing a mother away from her home, her children? Why don’t they respect family values in the West?”

    This from a regime which encourages mothers to send their children to die as suicide bombers and encourages women to join their jihadists.

  6. davod says:

    Richard:

    The vast majority of British (and others for that matter) prisoners settled down to captivity and did not try to escape.

  7. Adrian Owens says:

    Good article from Stephen Glover in this morning’s Daily Mail that sums up my current feelings well.

  8. Richard says:

    “The vast majority of British (and others for that matter) prisoners settled down to captivity and did not try to escape.”

    Fair enough but did they really have to trot out what they were told to say? One can hardly imagine prisoners of the Nazis telling everyone over the airways how wonderful their captors were etc.

  9. tired and emotional says:

    I have to say that given the extraordinary weakness of our naval forces at present we got away very lightly in terms of humiliation, we also got our troops back unharmed which is something to be very thankful for. Now we must urgently ensure that we have sufficient naval air power and TLAM capability to give Iran and all the other scumbags pause before they attempt something similar again. We must also drastically change the ROEs for our troops, boost their defensive and offensive capabilities when on patrol plus urgently review the ‘propaganda in capture’ training that troops are given, those smiles we saw in that foul ceremony appeared to be genuine – only one soldier seemed grim faced. That cannot be right.

    We have just received a salutary lesson – how we respond to it over the next few years will define our place in the world for generations. There is no hope that Labour will do more than posture while destroying the services, God help us if Cameron and Fox turn out to be gutless when in power.

  10. jfkalltheway says:

    “Now – let me be clear – I’m not criticising our individual sailors.” Well you could fool me. You use their picture and their words.

    Good God Tim, I just hope that you are never in the position these chaps found themselves in. You sit in Cathedral Close safely tapping away on a lap top with no more than a pigeon to threaten you spouting this nonsense. How dare you criticise these brave chaps and suggest they had any other option.

    You grew up in a service family. You know the pressures. Your A-Level results were actually blown up in a terrorist attack! Have some sympatyhy and stop putting yourself forward as a foreign policy expert – you are not and you need to know your limitations before you hurt someone.

    This is the last post I will make on this site and it is the last time I will visit. I am sick of the posturing.

  11. Tim Montgomerie says:

    I stand by what I wrote jfkalltheway. The great thing about blogging is that everyone gets the chance to disagree with the author and you can always set up your own blog to put the alternative perspective.

  12. Steevo says:

    Good post Tim and my sentiments. There are some appropriate posts but I’ll keep it simple and just give mention to a couple points of view: that by tired and emotional, and your quote from the National Review.

  13. mamapajamas says:

    re: “Richard:

    The vast majority of British (and others for that matter) prisoners settled down to captivity and did not try to escape.

    Posted by: davod | April 05, 2007 at 12:35 PM”

    Please see The Great Escape. Yeah… I KNOW it was a movie. But it was based upon a TRUE incident. The first duty of a POW in WWII was to find a way to escape. Sometimes a way could not be found.

    The situation in Iran would have been enormously different from WWII, however. The people would not have been able to escape across land unless, by sheer luck, they encountered some counter-revolutionaries in Iran, who might well NOT stick their necks out for a hostage situation.

    IMHO, it would be incumbent upon people watching the alleged “news” media to understand that virtually everything hostages say or do these days is staged by the captors, and that the hostages have no power to do anything about it.

    That understanding could be critical to a happy outcome to these situations.

  14. RedSam says:

    Disgraceful comments from the armchair General – who is probably facing the wall as well.

  15. Paul Oakley says:

    Chaps – ask yourself this. What would you have done in their position? I’m sure that we’d all like to think we’d be in-which-they-serve heroic but you can never know unless you’re facing the same threat. Looking at the footage as a whole, it’s clear that signals were sent when responding to the Iranian unfree press. My only criticism is that they might have used the traditional British symbol of disbelief, incomprehensible to foreigh nations. Namely, tongue in front of lower teeth; chin stroked pensively. I speak of course of the Jimmy Hill.

  16. mamapajamas says:

    I agree with you Paul, and agree that they DID send “messages”. In the one photo of the hostages eating that was circulated widely, the look on the face of the Marine in the background (at least, he was wearing camo instead of blue) struck fear in my heart. He was looking down at his plate, but the expression is plainly visible. If I had been an Iranian, I would not have gotten within 10 feet of that Marine!

    The main thing to remember is that we don’t have any idea at this point what sort of warnings and threats they received from the Iranians holding them.

    It should be presumed by ALL that everything we saw in the staged news videos was, in fact, staged, and not to be believed.

  17. davod says:

    Mama:

    Not to belabor the point but there were approximately 135,000 British POWs in the European theatre. Most waited for the war to end.

    If a large number of each POW camp tried to escape as in The Great Escape we would certainly have heard about them. We did not.

  18. davod says:

    I have just read a news report which indicates the the RM captain said on the embargoed tv program that they did intelligence collection during their checks of the ships. This is probably true but what the heck is he doing talking about this to the TV interviewer.

  19. The Turbanhater says:

    These service people were used as propaganda by an enemy of the free world, plain and simple. WW3 is nearer then we think. Soon the time for talking will end and the time for dying will begin.

  20. mamapajamas says:

    Davod… and why on earth do WWII POWs matter today? We’re in a completely different era of warfare, with prisoners being used for propaganda.

    As I’ve stated elsewhere, no one with more sense than God gave a doorknob believes anything said in these staged vids. So there’s really no reason for the military to risk their lives to not produce them.

  21. mike d says:

    malcolm please dont try to fool yourself or anyone else reading this blog.

    every gimmick-hungry yob in the UK…with precious few exceptions…will proudly don an Osama Bin Laden T-Shirt and spit in your face their belief that President Bush is to blame for everything and anything bad that happens on this earth.

    Let’s play ask a Briton between the ages of 15 and 75:

    Global warming? Bush’s fault.

    Iranian madmen seizing Royal Marines w/o justification? Bush fault

    Death of Lady Di? Bush’s fault.

    Eel & Pie shop closed coz local Paki gang mbangers burned it down? Bush’s fault.

    The sad but growing transformation of the once-proud United Kingdom into the Islamic Republic of Brittanistan? You guessed it. Bush’s fault.

    Not that most British kids anymore give a crap about that anyway (the notable exception being the brave young Tommies serving alongside the US and allied forces in combat across the globe), as long as they get to parade their Bush=Hitler puppets through Picadilly the same way their older brothers and sisters did when Ronald Reagan equalled Hitler.

  22. davod says:

    Mama:

    I did not bring up the WWII POWS, just commented on views expressed in this blog.

    I take it then that you do not subscribe to the view that a picture is worth a thousand words. Why do you think, that in other instances, people resisted being used like this.

    We live in an age where large numbers of those in the West believe that Bush is the equivilent of Hitler (they really That large numbers of Westerners view the videos as coerced actions is probably true.
    do) and he conspired to bring down the towers at the World Trade Center.

    That large numbers of Westerners view the videos as coerced actions is probably true.

    I would suggest to you that it is equally true that these videos will have an effect for years to come in justifying Iranian actions.

  23. davod says:

    Corrected entry.

    Mama:

    I did not bring up the WWII POWS, just commented on views expressed in this blog.

    I take it then that you do not subscribe to the view that a picture is worth a thousand words. Why do you think, that in other instances, people resisted being used like this.

    We live in an age where large numbers of those in the West believe that Bush is the equivilent of Hitler (they really do) and he conspired to bring down the towers at the World Trade Center.

    That large numbers of Westerners view the videos as coerced actions is probably true.

    I would suggest to you that it is equally true that these videos will have an effect for years to come in justifying Iranian actions.

  24. Samuel Coates says:

    Peregrine Worsthorne agrees:

    “Did they have to fawn to their captors?”

    http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=1&subID=1298

    Why can’t it be said that the navy personnel didn’t react to the situation in the best way? They didn’t, but that doesn’t mean we are judging them as people or that we would have done any better.

  25. mamapajamas says:

    Davod, re: “I take it then that you do not subscribe to the view that a picture is worth a thousand words. Why do you think, that in other instances, people resisted being used like this.”

    Today? I absolutely do NOT believe that “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

    Neither should anyone else when the producers of a vid have had time to monkey with it.

    Not when I can go to any video dealer and rent movies with starships flying around in space or a fire-breathing dragon chasing a kid on a broomstick.

    Not when news media photographers have been CAUGHT setting up shots, photoshopping otherwise finished pictures, or grabbing shots from porno films as “proof” of a preposterous claim.

    Not when the news media itself is completely untrustworthy.

    I’m of two minds about the resolution of this crisis, but I’ll put that in the thread for that later. I’ve got things to do right now.

  26. malcolm says:

    Mike d, your post is complete b…..cks as I’m sure you know. What I don’t understand about posters like you, why the nauseating self pity? Do you really care what other people around the world think of President Bush? You come from the most powerful country in the world, be proud of that and be a man. You don’t have invent such tripe.

  27. Teddy Bear says:

    Don’t you just love it?
    “You don’t have invent such tripe.”

    Here’s somebody that likes to criticize grammar and spelling mistakes – in others.

    Heh Heh Heh

  28. malcolm says:

    Sorry about the typo ‘Teddy Bear’ but at least I have the guts to post under my real name with a real email address rather than having to hide behind a stupid pseudonym huh?

  29. Teddy Bear says:

    As far as I know, your real name is quite possibly (and far more likely) Mohammed Ali. Also, you don’t know my real name isn’t teddy bear – so give it a rest.

    You have an agenda – this I’m sure of, otherwise you wouldn’t waste your time on such “a stupid site”, especially when you have so little of real debate to employ.

    Keep spending your time here M Ali Kum – it stops you doing any real damage anywhere else, and we’ll enjoy needling you.

  30. Steevo says:

    Malcom for now on i’lll remember not to use the spell-chjecker when responding. Your response in return will make things… very clear :^D

  31. malcolm says:

    I suppose I should have expected such a juvenile response ‘Teddy Bear’. I do not remember ever calling this site ‘stupid’ so I have no idea why you use inverted commas to invent an imaginary quotation. Tell me are you always this dishonest or is it just with me?
    I did mention to the Editor of this site ‘though when I met him recently that I thought if his objectives were to bring Conservatives from Britain and America together then many of the comments from both sides were counterproductive. He agreed.
    Steevo, I have no interest whatsoever in your spelling, whether you use a spellchecker or not does not matter. An inability to either write or understand coherent English is I would guess more of a problem for you.

  32. Steevo says:

    “Steevo, I have no interest whatsoever in your spelling, whether you use a spellchecker or not does not matter. An inability to either write or understand coherent English is I would guess more of a problem for you.”

    Lol Malcolm, anyone… anyone… reading your responses to me in the ‘It’s a long way from Port Stanley’ thread would shake their head in disbelief at your ability for self-denial.

    Like a lot of folks on the Left reality, proportion, all that… is more of an after thought: its simply how you wanna feel. And when its day by day contradiction indeed its a sight to behold.

    Apparently you can’t understand your own written words… not to mention recognizing your own miserable spelling 😀

    I do wanna say tho I’m glad you’re here mate; keep up the good fight. A sincere Happy Easter to you and yours.

  33. Teddy Bear says:

    M Ali, if you only invested as much brain power in topics actually under discussion than the ‘non-issues’ you cling to, it might be a lot more productive.

    For the record it was YOU who started criticising spelling and grammar in others, and did so several times, which is why I’m enjoying the irony now.

    Regarding ‘stupid’ site, it’s purposefully in inverted commas becasue it’s the conclusion one comes to when in nearly every post you make, you have referred to the opinions of another as stupid or moronic. If we’re all so stupid here, why do you continue berating us with your presence?

    I’m beginning to revise my opinion of you, I don’t even think now you’re sharp enough to have an agenda – you’re just plain …..
    I’ll leave it to everyone to fill in the blank.

    If you’re interested at all in getting ‘on track’ here malcolm, quit the ‘stupid’ and ‘moron’ labels that only make you think you’re intelligent enough to be so dismissive of another, and use more reason and logic to try and prove your point. I’m sure if you do that all here would let sleeping dogs lie and perhaps we’ll have a good debate.

  34. malcolm says:

    And a Happy Easter to you Steevo,I hope you enjoy the holiday.

  35. Oba of Benin says:

    The captured soldiers decided to cooperate becuase they feared that they would be imprisoned for 7 years. In other words, they did not believe that the British government had the muscle to ensure their release.
    Surely, the Prime Minister should resign because he has lost the confidence of his troops. If American soldiers were captured, they would not for one second doubt the resolve of their commander in chief.

  36. Teddy Bear says:

    Well with this story in the Telegraph today about a BBC decision not to commission the story of one of our soldiers who won the highest award for valour – The Victoria Cross, because he won it in Iraq, and the BBC ‘does not want to alienate their anti-war audience’, it’s hardly surprising that soldiers don’t have much confidence in this country.

    Obviously the BBC is never worried about alienating the pro-war audience, especially as they already know what the BBC is all about. this is about a clear example of bias as one can find. What an insult to the heroic soldier concerned, as well as EVERY one of our military personnel serving this country. It’s totally outrageous.

    With the BBC pursuing the stance it does it’s quite likely that one day it will need protection from this same serviceman. I hope none of them forget this story.

    It is the heroics of our soldiers that gave us the society that allows the BBC the freedom it has, and now they have been stabbed in the back.

    (hat-tip – Steevo)

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/08/wiraq308.xml

    Hero’s tale is ‘too positive’ for the BBC
    By Chris Hastings, Arts and Media Editor, Sunday Telegraph
    Last Updated: 11:56pm BST 07/04/2007

    Amid the deaths and the grim daily struggle bravely borne by Britain’s forces in southern Iraq, one tale of heroism stands out.

    Private Johnson Beharry with his Victoria Cross

    Private Johnson Beharry’s courage in rescuing an ambushed foot patrol then, in a second act, saving his vehicle’s crew despite his own terrible injuries earned him a Victoria Cross.

    For the BBC, however, his story is “too positive” about the conflict.

    The corporation has cancelled the commission for a 90-minute drama about Britain’s youngest surviving Victoria Cross hero because it feared it would alienate members of the audience opposed to the war in Iraq.

    The BBC’s retreat from the project, which had the working title Victoria Cross, has sparked accusations of cowardice and will reignite the debate about the broadcaster’s alleged lack of patriotism.

    “The BBC has behaved in a cowardly fashion by pulling the plug on the project altogether,” said a source close to the project. “It began to have second thoughts last year as the war in Iraq deteriorated. It felt it couldn’t show anything with a degree of positivity about the conflict.

    “It needed to tell stories about Iraq which reflected the fact that some members of the audience didn’t approve of what was going on. Obviously a story about Johnson Beharry could never do that. You couldn’t have a scene where he suddenly turned around and denounced the war because he just wouldn’t do that.

    “The film is now on hold and it will only make it to the screen if another broadcaster picks it up.”

    The independent production company which was developing the project for a prime-time slot on BBC1 is now believed to have taken the script to ITV.

    Pte Beharry, 27, who was awarded the VC in March 2005, was the first person to receive the country’s highest award for valour since 1982 and the first living recipient since 1965. He was honoured for two acts of outstanding gallantry which occurred just over a month apart while he was serving with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, in the Iraqi town of al-Amarah, in 2004.

    He was cited for “valour of the highest order” after he drove a Warrior tracked armoured vehicle through heavy enemy fire in May 2004 to come to the rescue of a foot patrol that had been caught in a series of ambushes. The 30-ton Warrior was hit by multiple rocket-propelled grenades, causing damage and resulting in the loss of radio communications. Pte Beharry drove through the ambush, taking his own injured crew and leading five other Warriors to safety. He then extracted his wounded colleagues from the vehicle, all the time exposed to further enemy fire.

    The following month, Pte Beharry was again driving the lead Warrior vehicle of his platoon through al-Amarah when his vehicle was ambushed. A rocket-propelled grenade hit the vehicle and Pte Beharry received serious head injuries. Other rockets hit the vehicle incapacitating his commander and injuring several of the crew.Despite his very serious injuries, Pte Beharry then took control of his vehicle and drove it out of the ambush area before losing consciousness. He required brain surgery for his head injuries and he was still recovering when he received the VC from the Queen in June last year.

    The script of the film about his heroics was being developed by Darlow Smithson, the production company responsible for the Bafta-winning Touching The Void and the docu-drama Tsunami, which was recently aired by the BBC. The Ministry of Defence is believed to have been supportive of the project and was offering the film-makers technical advice.

    The BBC’s decision to pull out will only confirm the fears of critics that television drama is only interested in telling bad news stories about the war.

    The Ministry of Defence recently expressed concern about Channel 4’s The Mark of Cain which showed British troops brutalising Iraqi detainees. That programme was temporarily pulled from the schedules after Iran detained 15 British troops.

    A spokesman for the BBC admitted that it had abandoned the VC project but refused to elaborate.

  37. Teddy Bear says:

    ANd if the previous story wasn’t bad enough, the BBC have no reservations telling of the heroics and gallantry of the Taleban – our enemies
    (Hat Tip – Steevo)

    “Traveling with the Taleban” by David Loyn, dated Tuesday, 24 October 2006.

    The BBC’s David Loyn has had exclusive access to Taleban forces mobilised against the British army in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.

    There is no army on earth as mobile as the Taleban.

    I remember it as their secret weapon when I travelled with them in the mid-1990s, as they swept aside rival mujahideen to take most of the country.

    Piled into the back of open Toyota trucks, their vehicle of choice, and carrying no possessions other than their weapons, they can move nimbly.

    The bare arid landscape of northern Helmand suits them well.

    After one hair-raising race across the desert last week, patrolling the large area where they can move at will, they screamed to a stop at a river bank.

    It was sunset, and time to pray before breaking the Ramadan fast they had kept since sunrise.

    Before praying, they washed in a dank-looking pool at the side of the almost-dry river bed.

    Afghanistan has been in the grip of a severe drought for several years, but the lack of clean water does not seem to concern these hardy men.

    They clean their teeth with sharpened sticks taken from trees, and sleep with only the thinnest shawls to cover them.

    They have surprised the British by the ferocity of their fighting and their willingness to take casualties.

    Their belief in the imminence of paradise means that few exhibit fear.

    Hat tip: LGF

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6081594.stm

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