The news reports that suspected members of the Taliban hanged an eight yearold son of the local police commander in Southern Afghanistan when his father refused to surrender with his police vehicle and weapons. They had kidnapped the boy and warned the father they would kill his son if he didn’t agree. The father, Mohammed Dauoud, 36, said he received a phone call with the demand saying his son Mohammed Ibrahim, had been kidnapped and would be killed if he didn’t comply. The father refused and the boy was hanged and the body dumped into a stream.
That senseless killing reminded me of a famous similar incident during the Spanish Civil War. In July of 1936 Francisco Franco began a military rebellion in Spanish Morocco. There is a stone fortification in Toledo, Alcazar, located in the highest part of Toledo, Spain. The fort contained munitions and supplies. It was commanded by Colonel Jose Moscardo Ituarte. In the opening stages of the Spanish Civil War this was an important fortification. A siege to take the fort began in July 1936. Overwhelming Spanish Republican forces. Colonel Moscardo refused demands he surrender the fort.By July 22nd Republicans controlled most of Toledo and used artillery bombardment, but Moscardo refused to
surrender the fort.
On the morning of July 23 Colonel Moscardo was called on the telephone and was told that he had nor surrendered Alcazar within ten minutes, his 16 year old son, Luis, would be shot to death. Colonel Moscardo asked to speak to his son. Luis told his father that if didn’t surrender they would shoot him. The colonel said to his son:
“Then commend your soul to God, shout ‘Via Cristo Rey’ and die like a hero.” The son said “Both I will do.”
Moscardo told the militia he would not surrender Alcazar. A few minutes later he received a call advising him his son had been executed.
Two fathers, seventy five years apart in time, who were forced to choose between the life of their son or principle. Impossible to second guess these kinds of decisions.