West Seattle Sailor Missing in Afghanistan, Taliban Claims He's a Hostage

jarod newlove 1.jpg
UPDATE: Jarod Newlove is dead. His body was recovered yesterday.

On Friday, two sailors, including one from West Seattle, drove away from their base in Kabul in an armored white SUV on a 60-mile trip into the mountainous Logar Province. Why only two men in a single vehicle, as opposed to a convoy, would be allowed to leave the relatively safe confines of Afghanistan's capital to travel in a region with a flourishing Taliban insurgency is unknown. What is known is that something went wrong, and now one sailor is dead and the other presumed a hostage.

A Taliban spokesman told the AP that one American was killed and another captured during a brief gunfight in a small town. NATO has since confirmed that the body of Justin McNeley, a 30-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class, has been recovered.

NATO hasn't yet confirmed that one of the sailors has been taken hostage. But given that it's airmailing leaflets offering a $20,000 reward for the sailor's return and issuing statements saying it "holds the captors accountable" for his well-being, it's pretty clear that at this point an official confirmation would be superfluous.

The missing sailor's family has declined to offer comment to The Seattle Times. And the paper, citing security concerns, has thus far held off on identifying him.

We'll let you know when there's more information.

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Newlove at a promotional ceremony in June.
UPDATE: The missing soldier is 25-year-old Jarod Newlove.

Originally from Renton, Newlove and his wife just bought a home in West Seattle. The Taliban say he's in a "safe place" where he won't be found.

Newlove is only the second American service member currently being held by the Taliban. The other is Specialist Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, who was captured earlier this year.

UPDATE: The Seattle Times has a bit more on Newlove's role in Afghanistan.

The sailors were instructors at a counterinsurgency school for Afghan security forces, according to senior military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. The school was headquartered in Kabul and had classrooms outside the capital, but they were never assigned anywhere near where McNeley's body was recovered, officials said.
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