An Australian who was recently released by the Taliban believes that SEAL Team 6 came agonizingly close to rescuing him six times.
Timothy Week, an Australian teacher, was abducted, alongside his American colleague Kevin King, from Kabul in 2016. He was released after the U.S. and Australian governments struck a hostage exchange deal with the Taliban. Week and King were swapped with three high-profile Taliban leaders.
During their three-year ordeal, Coalition SOF units repeatedly attempted to rescue them. And yet every time they were unsuccessful.
“I believe, and I hope that this is correct,” said Week in a press statement, “that they came in six times to try to get us, and that a number of times, they missed us only by hours.”
When it comes to Hostage Rescue (HR) and major Counterterrorism (CT) missions in Afghanistan, SEAL Team 6 has the priority over Delta Force. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the military’s Tier One counterterrorism Special Mission Units (SMU) have divided between them the two Areas of Operations (AO). The Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), another title for SEAL Team 6, has taken Afghanistan, Delta Iraq (and also Syria). This is the reason why SEALs knocked at Osama bin Laden’s door at a rather inconvenient time in 2011, and why Delta unleashed its hounds on the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s, Syrian summer house this past October.
Describing his experience, Week said that “I struggle to find words to express just how completely this has changed me. At times, I felt as if my death was imminent, and that I would never return to see those that I loved again. But, by the will of God, I am here, I am alive, and I am safe, and I am free.”
Interestingly, Week praised his Taliban captors, saying that “they were there because they were ordered to come and look after me. I don’t hate them at all. And some of them, I have great respect for, and great love for, almost.”
DEVGRU has had a mixed hostage rescue record in the country. In 2010, for example, Silver Squadron operators — SEAL Team 6 has four assault squadrons (Red, Blue, Gold, and Silver) — botched Operation ANSTRUTHER, the attempt to rescue Linda Norgrove, a British NGO aid worker and undercover MI6 operative. During the operation, a SEAL threw a fragmentation grenade near Norgrove before checking whether the British hostage was there. The operator was kicked out of DEVGRU following an inquiry on the incident.