They started interrogating the policemen and just as quick as the assault, a stroke of luck occurred. They told the SAS that the two men were in a nearby villa. The unit hastily reorganized and moved toward the new objective just a short distance away. The streets remained vacant and the villa seemed unguarded. Again, with worries of the captives gone or even executed on their minds, the SAS charged methodically and entered the structure at several points. More flash-bangs sounded amid empty rooms. Nothing. Not a single sign of the captives or their captors.
Another door was breached. A bathroom. Team members burst through, and there they were. Still bound and beaten up, but nonetheless alive. The SAS checked them over then spirited them out of the villa into a waiting Warrior. The rest of the unit followed suit and the armored column turned around and raced from the area. The choppers who had watched the entire event unfold swung around, too, and made their way back to base. Below them, the SAS remained calm until reaching the base where the two men were whisked off to a hospital. Only then did the congratulating occur. A textbook operation pulled off with no casualties and the good guys rescued. As night fell, the air of uncertainty, especially with their leaders returned. They wondered just how much trouble the British government had in store for them.
News of the successful rescue raced up the chain of command, through the Ministry of Defense and eventually into the Prime Minister’s office. As the story broke to the public, the higher-ups realized they had egg on their face, and to punish men being hailed as heroes for rescuing British troops that they had sent to Iraq was too bitter to contemplate. Therefore, they decided the best course of action was to give permission to rescue even though they knew the mission was complete. That way they could save face and there would be no punishment for the rescuers. Even more, the government later learned that if they had tried to prevent the mission, the SAS leadership was preparing to resign en masse.
Years later, the British press interviewed the two former captives and they recounted the story of how they ended up being captured.
The two men, a Sergeant and a Lance Corporal, were working with local police with whom they had serious questions about their loyalty. Dressed in Arab garb, they were part of a two-car team returning to base when they came upon a police checkpoint. Suspecting the police were really militants, when they approached wanting to search their car the two men raised weapons and a shoot out began. One policeman was killed and three others wounded before the car sped off with police cars in pursuit.
Soon, they were overtaken and radioed their position before coming to a stop and exiting with their hands up. The police stuffed them into a car and took them to Jamiat, where it was confirmed they were indeed part of a militia hostile to the British. They were stripped, chained and beaten before a camera was summoned for their TV debut. They were kept in the station until after the first attempt to win their release. Then they were moved to the villa. Once the SAS assaulted the station, militants guarding them fled in fear, leaving them to their fate. From there began the course of actions that led to their rescue.
It is one that the SAS looks proudly upon to this day, even though the very government that they served was more than willing to let their two comrades die, all in the interest of Political Correctness.
This article was originally written by Mike Perry.