Manhunt (military)

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Manhunting is a term sometimes used for military operations by special operations forces and intelligence organizations to search for, and capture or kill important enemy combatants, known as high-value targets. It has been used particularly in the United States during the War on Terror.[1]

The most visible such operations conducted involve counterterrorist activities. Some involve government-sanctioned targeted killing or extrajudicial execution, and such operations have drawn political and legal controversy. Other military operations, such as hostage rescue or personnel recovery, employ similar tactics and techniques.

The term has been used for some US operations such as Operation Red Dawn, the apprehension of Saddam Hussein,[2] the search for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,[3] and the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011.

Notable military manhunts[edit]

Year Conflict Combatant Pursuer Bounty Duration Outcome Depiction Notable Remarks Captor/Killer(s)
72-71BC Third Servile War Spartacus Roman Army 12 mnths Captured > Executed Tod des Spartacus by Hermann Vogel.jpg Unknown, Marcus Crassus (CO)
1781 American Revolution Charles Cornwallis Continental Army 21 days Surrendered >Imprisoned Surrender of Lord Cornwallis (cropped).jpg "I have the mortification to inform your Excellency that I have been forced to surrender the troops under my command as prisoners of war to the combined forces of America and France." —Cornwallis[4] Benjamin Lincoln (CO)
1836 Texas Revolution Santa Anna Texian Army 3 days Captured > Imprisoned SantaAnnaSurrender.jpg "I am General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and a prisoner of war at your disposition." —Santa Anna[5] James Sylvester, Sion Bostick
1865 American Civil War John Wilkes Booth Union Army $50,000 (~$2.5M in 2018) 12 days Killed "I prefer to come out and fight." —Booth[6] Boston Corbett,

Edward Doherty (CO)

1865 American Civil War Jefferson Davis Union Army $100,000 (~$5M in 2018) 31 days Captured > Imprisoned Unknown, James Wilson (CO)
1885-1886 American Indian Wars Geronimo American Army 1 year,

3 mnths,

18 days

Surrendered >Imprisoned Geronimo and his warriors.jpg "Once I moved about like the wind. Now I surrender to you and that is all." —Geonimo[7] Charles Bare Gatewood (CO)
1916-1917 Mexican Border War Pancho Villa American Army $100,000 ($1.9M in 2018) 10 mths, 24 days Failed John J. Pershing (CO)
1941-1943 World War II Isoroku Yamamoto American Military 1 year,

4 mths, 11 days

Killed Yamamoto's airplane crash.jpg "A military man can scarcely pride himself on having 'smitten a sleeping enemy'; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack." —Yamanoto[8] Rex Barber, Thomas Lanphier
1945-1960 World War II Adolf Eichmann Mossad 15 years, 4 days Captured > Executed "To sum it all up, I must say that I regret nothing." —Eichmann[9] Unknown, Peter Malkin (CO)
1966-1967 Cold War Che Guevara American Military 11 mths,

6 days

Captured > Executed CheExec9B.jpg "Do not shoot! I am Che Guevara and I am worth more to you alive than dead." —Guevara[10] Unknown, Félix Rodríguez (CO)
1989 War on Drugs Manuel Noriega American Military $1M ($2M in 2018) 14 days Surrendered >Imprisoned Manuel Noriega with agents from the U.S. DEA.jpg "I am General Noriega and I am surrendering to U.S. forces." —Noriega[11] Rene De La Cova, Drug Enforcement Administration[12]
1993 Somali Civil War Mohamed Farrah Aidid American Army $25,000 ($43,400 in 2018) 1 month, 21 days Failed William F. Garrison (CO)
1992-1993 War on Drugs Pablo Escobar American Army 1 year,

4 mnths, 10 days

Killed Death of Pablo Escobar.jpg "I prefer to be in the grave in Colombia than in a jail cell in the United States." —Escobar[13] Unknown, Hugo Martínez (CO)
2001-2011 War on Terror Osama bin Laden American Military $25M ($35.4M in 2018) 9 years, 7 mnths, 21 days Killed Obama and Biden await updates on bin Laden.jpg "For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo" — Robert O'Neill[14] Robert J. O'Neill, Matt Bissonnette
2001-present War on Terror Ayman al-Zawahiri American Military $25M ($35.4M in 2018) 18 years, 1 month, 16 days Ongoing
2003 War on Terror Saddam Hussein American Military $25M ($34.8M in 2018) 8 mnths, 23 days Captured > Executed SaddamSpiderHole.jpg "I am Saddam Hussein the president of Iraq and I am willing to negotiate." — Saddam Hussein[15] Steve Russell, James Hickey (CO)
2003 War on Terror Uday Hussein American Military $15M ($20.4M in 2018) 4 mnths, 2 days Killed Airborne and Special Forces Uday-Qusay raid, 2003.jpg "These killers are the enemies of Iraq's people...wherever they operate, they are being hunted, and they will be defeated...Yesterday, the careers of two of the regime's chief henchmen came to an end. Saddam Hussein's sons were responsible for torture, maiming and murder of countless Iraqis." — George W. Bush[16] Classified (Delta Force soldier)
2003 War on Terror Qusay Hussein American Military $15M ($20.4M in 2018) 4 mnths, 2 days Killed Qusay dead.jpg "These killers are the enemies of Iraq's people...wherever they operate, they are being hunted, and they will be defeated...Yesterday, the careers of two of the regime's chief henchmen came to an end. Saddam Hussein's sons were responsible for torture, maiming and murder of countless Iraqis." — George W. Bush[16] Delta Force TF 20, 101st Airborne
2003-2006 War on Terror Abu Musab al-Zarqawi American Military $25M ($31.1M in 2018) 3 years, 2 mnths, 18 days Killed Zarqawi dead us govt photo.jpg "America has realized today that its tanks, armies and Shia agents will not be able to end the battle with the Mujahideen." — al-Zarqawi[17] Classified (F-16 pilot)
2011-2019 War on Terror Abu Bakr alBaghdadi American Military $10M ($11.3M in 2019) 8 years, 5 mnths, 21 days Suicide President Trump Watches as U.S. Special Operations Forces Close in on ISIS Leader (48967991042).jpg "He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place." — Donald Trump[18] Delta Force
2016-2018 War on Drugs El Chapo American Army $5M ($5.1M in 2018) 5 mnths, 28 days Captured >Imprisoned El Chapo in U.S. 1.jpg "You are all going to die." — El Chapo[19] Classified (Fuerzas Especiales and

Delta Force soldiers)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Seymour M. Hersh, Moving Targets, New Yorker, December 15, 2003 accessed at [1] on 13 Feb 2008
  2. ^ Simone Payment, Finding and Capturing Saddam Hussein: A Successful Military Manhunt, The Rosen Publishing Group, 2005, ISBN 1-4042-0280-3
  3. ^ Chris Cuomo and Eamon McNiff, "The Men in the Shadows – Hunting al-Zarqawi: Task Force 145 Is an Elite Special Ops Unit That Spent Years Tracking al-Zarqawi," ABC News, June 9, 2006
  4. ^ "DOCUMENT: Cornwallis to Clinton | October 20, 1781". Teaching American History.
  5. ^ The Library of Historic Characters and Famous Events of All Nations and All Ages. https://books.google.com/books?id=xdZIAQAAIAAJ. 1906. p. 302.
  6. ^ Johnson, Byron Berkeley (1914). Abraham Lincoln and Boston Corbett. https://books.google.com/books?id=rMhEAAAAIAAJ. p. 34.
  7. ^ Brown, Dee (2009). Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. https://books.google.com/books?id=JUkoA29CFRsC: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 472.CS1 maint: location (link)
  8. ^ 阿川, 弘之 (1979). The Reluctant Admiral: Yamamoto and the Imperial Navy. Kodansha International. p. 285.
  9. ^ Eichman, Adolf (December 5, 1960). "'To Sum It All Up, I Regret Nothing'". Life Magazine. 49: 158.
  10. ^ Veciana, Antonio (Apr 18, 2017). Trained to Kill: The Inside Story of CIA Plots against Castro, Kennedy, and Che. https://books.google.com/books?id=kN2LDAAAQBAJ: Skyhorse.CS1 maint: location (link)
  11. ^ Runkle, Benjamin (2011). Wanted Dead or Alive: Manhunts from Geronimo to Bin Laden. https://books.google.com/books?id=JbFLWGHj20cC: St. Martin's Press. p. 128.CS1 maint: location (link)
  12. ^ "Agent Who Arrested Noriega Sentenced on Theft Charge". Associated Press. March 25, 1994.
  13. ^ Green, Peter S. "WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE". Wall Street Journal Custom Studios.
  14. ^ Schmidle, Nicholas (August 1, 2011). "Getting Bin Laden". The NewYorker.
  15. ^ McCarty, Rory (December 15, 2003). "'I am Saddam Hussein the president of Iraq and I am willing to negotiate'". The Guardian.
  16. ^ a b Bush, George W. (July 23, 2003). "President Bush Discusses Progress in Iraq". George W Bush White House Archives.
  17. ^ "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in quotes". The Irish Times. June 8, 2006.
  18. ^ "Transcript of Trump's Remarks on the Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi". The New York Times. October 27, 2019.
  19. ^ Ahmed, Azam (January 16, 2016). "How El Chapo Was Finally Captured, Again". The New York Times.