- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 6, 2002

The Pentagon is refusing to rule out a betrayal in Friday's attack on two Americans, which killed Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman after the pair had met with local tribal leaders in Afghanistan's Paktia province. We just don't know. There are a lot of different people in that country.
There are a lot of different people who have been on various sides of the fighting. We just don't know at this time, " Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said yesterday on CNN when asked whether the two Americans may have been set up by those tribal leaders.
Sgt. Chapman, 31, was a Green Beret communications specialist who had served in Panama, Haiti, Operation Desert Storm and then Afghanistan.
He was killed in an ambush by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda army as he and a CIA officer were leaving the meeting near the Afghan town of Khost, a few miles from the Pakistan border. The area in question is infested by pockets of al Qaeda guerrillas.
Given his military background, no one who knew Sgt. Chapman would find it surprising for him to be in such a dicey situation.
"Nathan always had a zest for big challenges and risk-taking. That was pretty much what he was into, " said Ed Robinson, who identified himself to The Washington Times as a "close friend" when reached yesterday at the home of Sgt. Chapman's parents, Will and Lynn Chapman.
Sgt. Chapman who was born at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and spent his childhood years in the Washington area was the first American soldier killed by hostile fire since the United States began its anti-terrorism war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7.
He leaves behind a wife, Renae, and two children, Amanda, 2, and Brandon, 1, who live in Washington state, where Sgt. Chapman had been stationed for most of his military career. Sgt. Chapman identified San Antonio as his hometown, because his parents live in nearby Georgetown, Texas, and other family members live in San Antonio.
"We pray for Sgt. Nathan Chapman, and we pray with his family for God's blessings on them," President Bush said yesterday during a news conference in Ontario, Calif. "He lost his life for a cause that is just and important, and that cause is the security of the American people, and that cause is the cause of freedom and a civilized world."
On CNN's "America's New War" show yesterday, Mrs. Clarke said, "We don't know that many more details" about the circumstance of Sgt. Chapman's death, beyond what was disclosed Friday by Gen. Tommy Franks, the overall commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
"But what we do know is that Chapman was working with a group of others, including other U.S. officials and trying to get some information with some tribal leaders, " she said. "They were leaving the meeting, and the firefight erupted."
The CIA officer who was injured has not been identified. News reports have indicated he is expected to survive.
CIA spokesman Bill Harlow declined yesterday to provide an update of the officer's condition. He said the only public information the agency has offered regarding the officer is that he was evacuated from Khost.
Mr. Harlow also said he would not steer the media away from published reports that the officer is expected to survive.
As for conditions in the area around Khost, Mrs. Clarke said on CNN that "Afghanistan the entire country is still a dangerous place. That particular area, that particular region, we knew to be particularly difficult, particularly dangerous."
Mr. Robinson said dangerous situations were nothing new for Sgt. Chapman, who stood an imposing 6-foot-4. "Nathan parachuted into many places. He parachuted into Panama" for the 1989 U.S. invasion "before everything broke loose there."
Mr. Robinson also said his friend had substantial combat experience but had fought unscathed until Friday.
"The Army took to him, and he took to the Army. It was a good match up until" Friday, said Will Chapman, who had a 21-year career in the Air Force himself, in an interview with the Associated Press yesterday about his son.
Sgt. Chapman spent most of his military career at Fort Lewis, Wash. Since the war in Afghanistan began, he had been assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Ky.
The sergeant's remains arrived yesterday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. From there, they will be flown back to Fort Lewis, likely by midweek, officials said.

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