Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Held captive by the Taliban

A Kidnapping From Two Sides

Dec. 22, 2010 - "A Rope and a Prayer: A Kidnapping from Two Sides" is not the book David Rohde set out to write when he traveled to Afghanistan in 2008 on leave from his reporter's job at the New York Times. Rohde's plan was to write a book that would open America's eyes to its long Afghan war gone bad, explaining how neglect, hubris and the enduring potency of the Taliban's sting were conspiring to snatch defeat from what was once assumed to be a victory.

Rohde's kidnapping scuttled that. Convinced his book needed the credibility of a face-to-face interview with a Taliban leader, Rohde arranged a meeting with "Abu Tayyeb," purported to be a commander of several hundred fighters in the insurgency outside the capital, Kabul. Instead, Abu Tayyeb took Rohde hostage, along with his Afghan translator and driver, and delivered them into the arms of the feared Haqqani network of fighters in the tribal badlands of Pakistan who are causing the U.S. mission fits. Over the course of seven months in captivity in North and South Waziristan, Rohde got a rare but much-too-close look at the inner operations and the mind-set of the Haqqani's and their Taliban allies waging war against America from bases on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border.

The result is a story of survival, which, rather than languishing on shelves groaning with worthy but little-noticed books on America's war in Afghanistan, may find an audience beyond the specialized tastes of the counter-insurgency crowd. {continued}

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