New York Times reporter David Rohde was held hostage by the Taliban for over seven months before he escaped. The Times coordinated a media blackout on the story to protect Rhode, who's published it in the Times. It's pretty incredible.
Paging Paul Greengrass, your next project is here. The report's going to file in six parts, the first of which was released today. They're all coming with video snippets of Rohde speaking about the kidnapping, and the first dispatch is epic. It opens up with Rohde pitching his interview with a Taliban commander on his editors, and ends with him and the two guides he was captured with hiking into southern Afghanistan. The first part more or less goes:
Setting up interview with Taliban chief, waking up that morning scared shitless, putting on boxers wife gave Rodhe for Valentine's Day that have hearts on them for good luck, preying for safe passage. Going on the road and getting taken hostage by a roadside Taliban gang armed with Scary Giant Guns. Not good. Taken to Evil Lair Number One while recounting even-handed research he was trying to do on the plight of the Taliban. Meeting Mullah Atiqullah, the commander wearing a shirt with the word "ROCK" on it. Explains that he's a journalist and he's supposed to be meeting with a Taliban commander. They're the Taliban and they're like the fast food franchises of terrorism so they have no idea who the hell he's talking about. Captors treating him well but guides like shit. More thinking about why they hate Rodhe and why he's here in the first place. Calling the Times Kabul bureau chief and hearing her freak out, making Rodhe even more scared. One of their guards is a suicide bomber. Shit. Rodhe explains that the Times will pay up for him. How much? "Millions." Shit. Getting moved for security reasons. Told they were going to lose their heads again. Atiqullah The Nice Guy drops them off at the suicide bomber's house. Living with the suicide bomber for four days. He's got a nice backyard. He let one of the guides play a game on his cell phone. Nice. They ask for the cellphone again. Suicide bomber freaks out and points Scary Giant Gun at them. Fuck. Atiqullah comes back. They get moved again. Now, they're hiking through the mountains. It's really, really difficult. Goddamnit. Oh, and it looks like we're hiking into the Crenshaw Boulevard of the Taliban and there are no bloods and crips, just more people who want me dead.
So, yes: the New York Times is more or less publishing the real life version of Charlie Wilson's War meets Midnight Express, and it's a pretty compelling read. Questions, however: Is Rohde going to be writing about the incredible media blackout the New York Times coordinated on the story, in the story? Or is that slightly messy detail going to get sidelined in what'll eventually be a pretty high-priced competition for optioning this thing for Clooney? Stay tuned!