As I predicted last week, despite official denials by the Korean government, a Taliban spokesman admits they received 20 million dollars for those kidnapped Korean gals.

(BBC PHOTO)bbc photo
And that same spokesman admits they needed the money, and are encouraged by the success of the kidnapping. Indeed, they now are planning to kidnap a lot more foreigners.

One of the dirty little secret that no one mentions about working in isolated mission type hospitals is that you have to be careful. Kidnapping and robbery go along with the territory.

Afghanistan is notorious for such criminal gangs, and Doctors without borders had to close their clinics after five of their members were killed in an attack in 2004.

Usually local gangs respect missionaries, or at least let them alone since attacking people of God is “Bad luck”, but that is not always the case, especially when kidnapping is part of the criminal cultures.

But the trick is to kidnap the RIGHT type of foreigners.

Here in the Philippines, the NPA specializes in Chinese businessmen. It’s a game, and the ransom is small, since China doesn’t help them, they only charge what the family can afford.

On the other hand, the Muslim terrorists learned: Don’t kidnap American Baptists: You might just get US Special Forces with local soldiers coming to visit. Pick Italian priests. The joke in Mindanao after the third Italian priest was kidnapped was that they must like Pizza. Or maybe the 10 million dollar ransom that everyone denies was paid to get Father Bossi freed.

And so the bad news is that, by giving into kidnappers, the Koreans have just sent a message that their citizens are soft targets for every terror group and local criminal gang in Asia.

The Korean press is split on all this, half blaming the “missionaries” for daring to go there, and half blaming the US for not giving in to prisoner exchanges.

All of these people are wrong. The ones to blame are the Taliban. To paraphrase Forest Gump: “evil is as evil does”.
Yes, I know.”Missionary” has become a dirty word, thanks to aggressive preaching in the past. I’ve had to stop visiting doctors from giving out bibles and preaching to patients when I worked on Indian reservations.
But using the word missionary to describe the women is misleading. They were not preachers but nurses and teachers. They weren’t going to give out bibles in their clinics. A lot of NGO’s are church sponsored. And the women were doing what a lot of church sponsored NGO’s do: social work, nursing, and teaching to help people.

If you want to help people in need, you can’t go it alone. You need an organization behind you. But although the church is paying your bills, you don’t bring up religion in your work, although you might talk to people in your off duty time.

So let’s cut through the rhetoric, it comes down to the same reason Father Bossi was kidnapped: Money.The dirty little secret is that the Taliban who kidnapped these women were not Islamic warriors, but terrorists and criminals who are not brave enough to attack soldiers.

The Taliban routinely kills Afghan women who are nurses and teachers, despite Koran laws protecting women, and in kidnapping and killing the Koreans, they broke another sacred law against harming a guest.

So cut the crap about being Islamic warriors, guys: Mohammed’s wives are role models for every Muslim girl who wants to run a business or nurse or join the military. Your problem is not Islam, it’s your childish need to punish women you can’t control with force.

Pajamas Media links to an Afghan blogger about how the local newspapers are covering all of this. He reports one reason that the Taliban gave in was because US and Afghan soldiers surrounded the area. (Plans to rescue the girls was nixed by the Korean government, although Norwegian and Afghan forces did rescue a German hostage in Kabul last week).
He also quotes local news reports saying Pakistani (NOT Afghan) Taliban kidnapped the girls, and that locals are upset because some of the women were assaulted during their captivity.

According to local news resources reported that Merajuddin Pathan, governor of Ghazni province has expressed that a group of Taliban who are holding Korean hostages in Ghazni assaulted four hostages’ women, which created a battle between two groups inside of the Taliban.

This last part we will never know if it is true, because such things are rarely mentioned to spare the victims, but one dirty little secret about being a missionary in a war zone is that if you don’t have armed guards to protect your women, you’d better put them on the pill, just in case.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She served as a secular doctor at an African mission hospital during a time when there was an “insurgency”. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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