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Kill or Capture: More U.S. Military Manhunts

Originally published by MHQ magazine. Published Online: May 01, 2012 
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U.S. forces helped in the hunt for Guevara (Library of Congress).
U.S. forces helped in the hunt for Guevara (Library of Congress).

Emilio Aguinaldo, 1899–1901 The leader of Filipino insurgents after the Spanish-American War, Aguinaldo harassed U.S. forces in newly occupied Manila and eluded capture until a daring raid led by Brigadier General Frederick Funston 100 miles behind enemy lines. Working with a force of American-allied Filipinos, Funston and four other officers arrived at the rebel's headquarters posing as prisoners, then surprised and captured him.

Che Guevara, 1967 Arriving in Bolivia to lead a communist insurgency, the doctor turned Marxist revolutionary was targeted by an indigenous Ranger battalion trained by U.S. Special Forces and assisted by CIA operatives. On October 8, the Bolivian army trapped Guevara's forces in a canyon, decimated the guerrillas, and captured Guevara. He was executed the next day.

Pablo Escobar, 1989–1993 Delta Force elements entered Colombia in 1992 at the government's invitation to help police hunt down Escobar, the vicious kingpin of the Medellín drug cartel. This followed years of high-tech sleuthing conducted by a top-secret U.S. military intelligence unit known as Centra Spike. Escobar was finally killed on December 2, 1993, when, after a failed raid in Medellín, the drug lord was spotted through the window of a nearby row house.

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Muhammad Farah Aideed, 1993 The Clinton administration launched a manhunt for Aideed, a Somali leader whose forces had ambushed and killed 24 Pakistani peacekeepers participating in a United Nations mission in the famine-ravaged country. Delta Force troops and a Ranger company searched for two months before the operation was closed down following the costly October 3–4 battle in Mogadishu (immortalized in the film Black Hawk Down), where 18 American soldiers were killed. Aideed died after being wounded in a 1996 internecine battle.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, 2004–2006 Following the capture of Saddam Hussein, a task force of Delta Force, Navy SEAL Team 6, and special army and air force units began hunting al-Zarqawi, head of al-Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate. After years of near misses, the military pinpointed his location after mid-level Zarqawi operatives were captured and revealed the identity of his spiritual adviser. On June 7, 2006, the terrorist was killed in a U.S. air strike.

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One Response to “Kill or Capture: More U.S. Military Manhunts”


  1. 1
    Larry C. says:

    JFK ordered several other hits that succeeded. The operation information is buried so deep that even if the few "operators" that are still alive today revealed what happen, they would be accused of inventing stories. The "operations" lasted into the first year of LBJ. These operations were done at an early stage so were not noticed in the news stories of the time.
    If those operations had not succeeded there would have been major differences in Central American politics of today.



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