Rescued doctor expected home by Tuesday

ERIN PRATER Updated: December 13, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: December 13, 2012

A Colorado Springs doctor freed from the Taliban by U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan on Saturday will be back in town “before Tuesday,” according to his employer.

Dr. Dilip Joseph, a medical adviser with Colorado Springs-based nonprofit Morning Star Development, is being escorted back to the U.S. by the FBI, Lars Peterson, the organization’s executive director, said on Thursday.

Joseph and two other Morning Star workers were returning from a Dec. 5 visit to a medical clinic in Eastern Afghanistan when armed men kidnapped them.

The other two workers were released after negotiations, but the captors held Joseph, demanding a reported $100,000 ransom.

SEALs were ordered to Joseph’s rescue after an intelligence report revealed a threat to his life.

Joseph was not injured, according to a statement released by Morning Star.

The clinic Joseph was returning from has been temporarily closed as the charity reevaluates “how things are going,” Peterson said.

For now, the charity’s other centers and clinics are functioning as usual, but under heightened levels of security, he added.

Joseph was supposed to be escorted by “police” during his trip from the clinic, said Peterson, who was unsure Thursday if the escort occurred or what organization was supposed to perform the escort.

“We do have safety protocols,” Peterson said. “We do have people who keep us safe – theoretically.”

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, a member of Navy SEAL Team Six, died in the Dec. 8 raid to rescue Joseph.

Morning Star’s Facebook page was taken down earlier this week after being inundated with angry comments from users who said the charity had blood on its hands and should hire security to protect its employees.

“Even with good security, it’s hard to fight against people with grenade launchers and all those kinds of things,” said Peterson when asked to respond.

Morning Star is considering how to honor Checque, Peterson said.

“We want to make sure we’re doing the right thing in the right way,” he said. “We want to honor the family as we go forward.”

Morning Star Development was founded in 2002. At one point it employed 153 people in Afghanistan and was funded by an annual budget of about $900,000 — 90 percent of which was spent on community and economic development rural Afghanistan.

By 2011, the charity had built four community centers and four medical clinics in Afghanistan.

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