Archive for February 10th, 2009

On Monday, a shocking new video was released showing Pakistani militants beheading a kidnapped Polish engineer. The geologist, Piotr Stanczak, had been kidnapped in September killed after a deadline expired for the Pakistani government to free captured militants, stated a Taliban spokesman. The chilling seven-minute video shows the hostage flanked by two masked men. Off camera, a militant briefly engages him in conversation before three others behead him. According to the UK’s Daily Mail, “The video is so horrifying that some news wire agencies chose not to distribute the images.”  The news agency added, “The video was given to an Associated Press reporter yesterday in north-western Pakistan on a flash drive by an intermediary who said he obtained it from the Taliban.” Although a number of foreigners have been kidnapped in Pakistan [see CHUP’s recent post on the kidnapped UN official], Stanczak’s death would appear to be the first killing of a Western hostage in Pakistan since U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl was beheaded in 2002.

The Associated Press reported later today that the Polish government has promised to “issue international arrest warrants for the militants, and officials charged that elements within the Pakistani government shared blame for the killing.” The news agency cited the country’s foreign minister Radek Sikorski, who called the killing a “bestial execution,” and told reporters, “A crime was committed…so there has to be an investigation, a search for the culprits, and if possible putting them before the justice system, and an exemplary punishment.” The AP added, “It was not immediately clear what impact the warrants would have, because Poland does not have an extradition treaty with Pakistan.”

Justice Minister Andrzej Czuma said Polish intelligence had identified the kidnappers as members of a Taliban group. He said intelligence had “described the leadership of the group, their relatives, where they are located, their friends in Pakistani government structures.” BBC News also reported that the executioners were members of the Pakistani Taliban, and the Daily Times reported that the Dara Adamkhel chapter of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan [see CHUP’s backgrounder The Rise of Tehreek-e-Taliban] claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and beheading.

The development is both horrific and disturbing. Perhaps more chilling is the message the Polish engineer made to his country on the video,  before he was beheaded[see below]:

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