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The Great Escape in Afghanistan: 500+ Taliban Tunnel Out of Prison

Updated on April 26, 2011

Who knows? Maybe some of the Taliban DID SEE Steve McQueen in the 60's, The Great Escape classic film, where Americans and Brits tunneled their way out of a Nazi POW camp. Maybe.

The recent "Great Escape" for the 21st Century is actually even more incredible and indicates just how wasteful the Afghanistan war is.  Sarpoza prison is in Kandahar, it is Afghanistan's largest and operated solely by NATO trained Afghanistan security forces. There is only a platoon of American soldiers nearby for emergency. Canada spent over $4 million to bolster the prison's defenses last year and retrained the staff there after the 2008 successful attack by the Taliban on the prison that freed 900 Taliban fighters.

The daring tunnel, 3 ft. in diameter, was dug over a period of months and was over a half mile long, ending at a small nearby house close to the prison where cars were waiting. It began at midnight, that is when all of the prisoners in the political section of the cell block (containing mostly Taliban fighters and commanders) were notified. Silently, they slipped into the tunnel. According to boasting Taliban escapees, by 3 a.m., most of the 500+ had escaped and cars sped off. And where were the guards?

Who knows. But, nothing was discovered until 6 a.m. when a guard noticed the whole cell block was empty. Duh! Most acknowledge that there was also insiders in on this. For instance, what happened to all of the dirt that was removed? Did they use the same technique as in the 1962 movie? You are talking about a significant amount. Why was there no guard checks every hour? Obviously, internal corruption-big surprise.

A total of 541 escaped according to the boastful Taliban, these include 106 Taliban commanders. On the next day, a massive search ensued and 34 were found and returned to prison. As part of the Taliban plan, they distracted the guards with suicide bombers on the opposite side of the compound.

Last year, President Obama promised to regain control of Kandahar, a Taliban base. To do so, 30,000 US troops cleansed the area. Of course, those troops are gone and as in the Vietnam war, once the Americans leave, the enemy returns. They are not stupid!

The prison break has dealt a major blow in PR for the war. The Taliban are now much stronger, just in time for the summer combat ops. It is a blow to NATO forces trying to convert this corrupt nation. For the public, it only reinforces their own suspicion about their corrupt government and security and allows the Taliban to gain in stature. 

So much for the high security Sarpoza prison.


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