First of all I want to say that the service this journalist is trying to do for the world is amazing. I have the utmost respect for journalists who risk their lives to get to the truth. What this man had to experience must have been terrifying. I am very sorry for him and his family that he had to go through this.
That being said, this story exposes that a lot of what has been dubbed "hate" or "misunderstanding" of the Taliban or Al Qaeda people is true. It's funny to me that you can see from reading through the whole thing how pro-American the writer becomes. At first he glorifies the Taliban fighters, and as the story goes on he grows tired of their B.S. Much like these people who elect these corrupt governments become tired of their government's B.S. after the initial years of romance with that same government.
As someone who has participated in our generation's wars going on in the middle east/southwest Asia I find things like this hard to read. The naivete with which the writer approaches these people and the trust he affords them is astounding to me. He's surprised they betrayed him? I'm not trying to spew some Christian American nonsense here, just common sense. Hell, I'm not even a Christian.
I wrote responses to some of what he had written as I was reading through the article. If it interest anyone, feel free to read them below.
Over those months, I came to a simple realization. After seven years of reporting in the region, I did not fully understand how extreme many of the Taliban had become. Before the kidnapping, I viewed the organization as a form of “Al Qaeda lite,” a religiously motivated movement primarily focused on controlling Afghanistan.
Living side by side with the Haqqanis’ followers, I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious.
No ****? You don't say, huh? I'll be damned.
The Taliban government that had supposedly been eliminated by the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was alive and thriving.
Yeah, in Pakistan, who for the most part has done nothing about the Taliban moving into their country. Like you said in the previous couple of paragraphs... you were in southern Waziristan. Which is where? Pakistan. Which is what? Not Afghanistan.
...as well as the American detention of Muslim prisoners who had been held for years without being charged.
Yes, feel sorry for these poor Muslims who are being held without charges (which is a complete fallacy, by the way, since I've done and seen the paperwork necessary to send a prisoner to Gitmo) But wait Mr. Reporter guy... what were you detained for, and for how long?
As the months dragged on, I grew to detest our captors. I saw the Haqqanis as a criminal gang masquerading as a pious religious movement. They described themselves as the true followers of Islam but displayed an astounding capacity for dishonesty and greed.
Again... you don't say? Really? Wow... never would have guessed it.
By June, our seventh month in captivity, it had become clear to us that our captors were not seriously negotiating our release. Their arrogance and hypocrisy had become unending, their dishonesty constant.
There seems to be a theme here...
I also met with a French journalist who had interviewed Abu Tayyeb twice with Tahir. In the fall of 2007, she spent two days filming him and his men as they trained. In the summer of 2008, she spent an evening with them and filmed an attack on a police post.
She pointed out that I was more vulnerable as an American, but she said she thought Abu Tayyeb would not kidnap us. She said she believed that he was trying to use the media to get across the Taliban’s message.
Yeah, she seems like she's really in touch with what is going on there. Those poor, poor Taliban are only trying to get a message across. They're not intent on taking advantage of your misplaced pity and/or trust and advancing their own ridiculous causes. People who fear the Taliban and know they're evil are just ignorant. Not this lady with a bleeding heart who gave you horrible advice that got you imprisoned for 7 months.
From the car, I sent Carlotta a text message with Abu Tayyeb’s phone number. I told her to call him if she did not hear from me. If something went wrong along the way, Abu Tayyeb and his men would rescue us. Under Afghan tradition, guests are treated with extraordinary honor. If a guest is threatened, it is the host’s duty to shelter and protect him.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
I hoped there had been some kind of mistake. I hoped the gunmen would call Abu Tayyeb, who would vouch for us and order our release. Instead, our car continued down the road, following a yellow station wagon in front of us.
I'll be damned...
At this point he goes on to speak on behalf of his government, which only moments before he was insulting, by saying that they would be willing to exchange money and prisoners for him. Even though he's fully aware, as any American should be, that America does not and will not negotiate with terrorists.
In my mind, Qari and Atiqullah personified polar ends of the Taliban. Qari represented a paranoid, intractable force. Atiqullah embodied the more reasonable faction: people who would compromise on our release and, perhaps, even on peace in Afghanistan.
I did not know which one represented the majority. I wanted to believe that Atiqullah did. Yet each day I increasingly feared that Qari was the true Taliban.
Again... you don't say?
As we walked, I understood why Western journalists had grown enamored of the anti-Soviet Afghan resistance fighters in the 1980s. Under a spectacular panorama of stars, we wound our way along a steep mountain pass. Emaciated Taliban fighters carried heavy machine guns with little sign of fatigue. Their grit and resilience seemed boundless.
You mean like American soldiers have been doing every day since the war began? Except instead of just machine guns they're also carrying body armor and various other accessories which add up to 100+ lbs compared to a measley 40 lb. machine gun with 20 lbs. of ammo. Before you say that Americans aren't emaciated and hungry I'll just add that when I was fighting overseas I was 6' tall and 130 lbs carrying 105 lbs. of gear on 4 hour patrols in 120 degree weather every day at least 2 times a day. Not to mention 36 hour missions, etc. Don't tell me how "tough" the Taliban fighters are because they strap on a robe and 60 lbs. of gear.
Abu Tayyeb had invited us to an interview, betrayed us and then pretended that he was a commander named Atiqullah.
Again, that theme... it seems recurring.
It was a universe filled with contradictions. My captors assailed the West for killing civilians, but they celebrated suicide attacks orchestrated by the Taliban that killed scores of Muslim bystanders. They bitterly denounced missionaries, but they pressed me to convert to their faith. They complained about innocent Muslims being imprisoned by the United States, even as they continued to hold us captive.
1) Military action by the U.S. which inflicts harm on civilians is strongly discouraged and very often results in court martial or worse for American military, and the military has its feet held to the fire every time something like that happens even if only accidentally. Take, for instance, my squad leader who was brought up on charges because he fired a warning shot at a car that just happened to ricochet off the ground and into the driver's face accidentally.
2) Suicide bombers who kill civilians do so knowingly, and they do not punish their own for things like that.
My captors railed against the evils of a secular society. In March, they celebrated a suicide attack in a mosque in the Pakistani town of Jamrud that killed as many as 50 worshipers as they prayed to God. Those living under Pakistan’s apostate government, they said, deserved it.
That damn America.. killing innocents all the time. Oh wait... this was done by their own people. Like the hundreds of other suicide bombs/rocket attacks/mortar attacks/blind fire attacks/car bombs/IED's that they target their own people with.
That's about as far as I went with it before I decided to just STFU and read the article. I just think people shouldn't be so busy glorifying the Taliban who are largely uneducated, ignorant, lying, murdering, etc. etc. etc. Thankfully the author exposes this as the article goes on.