Less than a week after his arrival in Afghanistan for front line service as an Apache pilot, the Taliban have threatened to do anything in within their power to kidnap or kill Prince Harry.
“We are using all our strength to get rid of him, either by killing or kidnapping,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told to Reuters by phone Monday from an undisclosed location. “We have informed our commanders in Helmand to do whatever they can to eliminate him.”
Mujahid made a reference to the “Harry operations,” but declined to reveal any further information.
His fighting words come merely days after a Taliban commander in Helmand province, Maulvi Ahmadullah Ahmadyar, reportedly told Britain’s Channel 4 News that Harry’s deployment is “good news for us as we are always in search for such precious birds.” Ahmadyar continued:
“Our priority will be to kidnap him at any cost as we have our informers at the military base being used by the British troops here in Helmand. And if we don’t succeed then obviously we would like to eliminate him through our Afghan friends working with British troops.”
Another Taliban commander, Mulla Burjan, told Channel 4 News that he hoped to bring down the recently qualified helicopter pilot using rocket-propelled grenades. “We will be happy to see him here as we heard he will be flying Apache helicopter. I will love to hit his chopper with my RPG,” Burjan said.
While Britain’s Ministry of Defence declined to comment, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen played down the seriousness threat to the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II.
“That’s not a matter of concern,” he said at a news conference in Brussels on Monday, according to Reuters. “We do everything we can to protect all our troops deployed to Afghanistan whatever might be their personal background.”
Harry’s previous deployment to Afganistan in 2007-08 was cut short due to concerns for the prince’s safety, after his presence in the region was publicly revealed by various international publications.
The relatively low risk to Apache pilots meant the Prince was allowed to return to the front line.
In contrast to the total media blackout agreed to by the British media in 2007, the Ministry of Defence publicly disclosed the prince’s present deployment. Nevertheless, for now abundantly obvious security concerns, very few additional details have been given.