DiscoverSerialS02 Episode 04: The Captors
S02 Episode 04: The Captors

S02 Episode 04: The Captors

Update: 2016-01-0745
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What's happening on the other side of the door?

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

the previously on cereal and now they mean good grief if anyone standing outside the cheating man we did this in and then leases been going on in text and in Afghanistan don't know to come home the the the the body like the guys from This American Life and WBC Chicago serial one story told week by week and Sarah came the way Bo talks to Mark about his time as a prisoner it's almost as if it's divided there is year one when he's gathering Intel planning escapes focused on getting away and then the rest of it and the rest of it is four more years when his purpose is less sharp his hope is blurry or less action now he's got to endure and that's in large part because after year one after Bo's nine to escape the Taliban put him in a cage the release of the ER in the cage this is a metal cage or with cage or what is like an iron bar cage made for what purpose for keeping me in a house as it was six parts for sides top and bottom made of quarter inch bars this collapsible when they moved into new location they'd rebuild the cage in whatever room they put him in bold and padlock it together both as if he stretched his arms he could touch opposite sides of the cage with his fingers figures was about six feet wide when Bo explain stuff like this I can picture the cameras understand what he's describing but somewhat i realised i actually understand what is going on the whole thing it was overlaid with a scramble where exactly is he who exactly is holding him I couldn't tell what the Taliban and the county's wanted or expected by Z by the Nord I can tell his treatment was senseless and haphazard or if it was part of a plan the most descriptions are vivid that's not the problem the problem is there mainly from inside a room o couldn't see what was happening outside so I could make order of it because Bo himself and there's another guy who has a very good idea of those place and have tiny world order his name is David rode the Davidson investigative reporter for Reuters now but back in two thousand aid he was on leave from the New York Times researching a book about Afghanistan he arranged to interview a Taliban about an hour's drive south of Kabul and he got kidnapped and headed over to the same people and pretty much the same place close to the same time as I heard David's story is so much of Poe's story clicked into place for me the logistics the locations Cal's the many aspects of David's experience are really different from us David the civilian first off he's a journalist who already about Afghanistan Pakistan he got free after about seven months versus nearly five years and a huge difference David was in alone he was taken with two Afghans aside a driver and tie here a translator so he had someone to interpret whatever he didn't understand also David wasn't blindfolded all the time really only one who's being moved to different location he wasn't chained or tied up inside the compound he could walk around in the courtyard he could have conversations with his guards and I'm not bringing all that up to suggest some sort of grim hostage contest only to point out that while David was imprisoned he wasn't in the dark he was in solitary confinement like though so he had an awareness Poe didn't have about the system he had entered into after they were car jacked a David and us out and tie here were taken around Afghanistan for a few days and then they were told to get out of the car and start walking over some mountains the next morning it's clear to David where he is for one thing the car that picks them up is driving on the left hand side of the road like they do in Pakistan and soon after that I saw a road sign in Urdu the national language of Pakistan and I knew we'd walked into the tribal areas over the mountains and I knew we were doomed that's the worst place you can be taken in the Afghanistan Pakistan region David knew how utterly dangerous the tribal areas in western Pakistan where this place it's really just over the mountains right near the border and if you're imagining a wild desolate inaccessible terrain it's not like that David said compared to rural Afghanistan in fact a city like Marin Shah the capital of North Waziristan where the Kaiser based and where Bo has kept most of the time in or there are more paved roads more large buildings or schools it's bustling David said there's no market with people selling goods from Pakistan proper I mean my kidnappers you know brought me bottled Nestle water that was manufactured from plants in in in Lahore Pakistan cities you know but they were able to buy it in the market in the trailers they bought me copies of this the most well known English language newspaper in Pakistan Dawn another was called the news and they would be two or three days old that they could buy all these things in the market in the middle of the tribal areas there's kids fairs and farmers you know with donkeys in there bring in their crops to sell there's tons of toilet as station wagons that people driving serve as taxis and it became clear in those first few hours and days and weeks that this was a Taliban mini state functions openly that you know repaired roads and ran schools and had some sort of basic form of healthcare it wasn't this completely backward an area as it has you know is usually described as hell like the Taliban are sort of sulking around dodging any Pakistani military presence David says that they're fully aware of each other may be wary at times but also like waving to each other as they drove around the travelers Waziristan north and south David said there'd be regular checkpoints along the road that would normally be manned by Pakistani security or army instead there be young Taliban fighters with clashing cobs letting traffic through not letting traffic through the driver of David's car had to have the right password to get by the one one time I was being driven a car we ran into a Pakistani army resupply convoy and I thought this is great opportunity maybe know the convoy will let us all get out the car we can make a run for it and instead you know our car that Alan Carr just pull over the side of the road I remember in front of us was a car full of civilians the civilians had to get out of the car is or to put their hands up in the Pakistani army convoy went by the Pakistani soldiers did seem to be really afraid that there would be a car bomb or some sort of attack from one of these vehicles in the saddle Road including ours but they just wrote bias they never forces get out of our car and then the man driving my car he was like the Number two commander of the county network has names but in a county explaining that that kind of said agreement with the Pakistani army that the whole county vehicles to set up all over the side of the road and no one had to get out of the county car and in return the packet size would not inspect the car and how did they know which one how did they know which is a kind car which has no idea I just remember watching butter in a county the number to command a kind at work smiling and waving two Pakistani soldiers drove by in their trucks and you know in my heart sinking when I thought maybe rescue us so they're just it's just like this there were just like impunity is just jumping in and I had suggests it's a truce so it's you know and I to question four times the if your version but I quick the easiest way to explain this Azam and the like anyone I asked to explain what gives with the county's operating so freely in Pakistan had to take a deep breath first because it is fried and it is complicated and to do just as it would take a long time I'm just going to give you the basics of what I've learned and the colonies are a family run operation and they're not one thing their Islamic nationalists there a militant group and they have businesses in New York Times story compared them to quote The Sopranos of the Afghanistan war unquote got their own alliances their own source of funds but they're also part of the Taliban they use the same stationary not kidding about that one expert told me their statements come out under the seal of the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan same as the Afghan Taliban the colonies are the most militarily effective part of the Taliban and they are the part of the that's most under control one expert told me quote you know they're just very very close to the Pakistanis and quote the Conley family is Afghan or Pashtun their roots are over in Khost province in Afghanistan but they're headquartered in Pakistan back in the nineteen seventies they were fighting the Afghan government and then later switch to fighting the Soviets when they invaded Afghanistan and by the way we the US like to that they were fighting the communists in the early eighties we gave them millions to help them train fighters in North was your stand we helped build them up as for Pakistan they tolerate all this because the curries are useful to them they're useful proxies in Pakistan's decades long effort to influence events inside Afghanistan to keep Afghanistan manageable neighbor and stay with me they're useful because they help prevent Pakistan's other neighbor India from establishing any serious foothold or influence in Afghanistan Pakistan has always as its biggest threat here's David's valiant thirty second explanation the Pakistani military their goal is to stop India everywhere they can in South Asia so the Pakistani government allow the counties in the Taliban operate because they saw them as allies they saw counties is a force that can allow Pakistan to remain Hindu facto control of Afghanistan and stop India from taking over Afghanistan makes it unlike three cents is a set of ten and I liked it and are good and and this is also important Kai is help Pakistan deal with the other Taliban in their country the Pakistani Taliban because the Hawkeye is have good relations with the Pakistani Taliban but the Pakistani Taliban does not have good relations with the Pakistani government self doubt was the situation back in two thousand and nine when Bo and David were held by the companies in the past couple years though Pakistan strategy toward the Taliban has changed somewhat they're bombing was there stand properly right now if you've been reading the paper maybe you're caught up on all this I have some phone numbers for experts you can call the The David describes the county is as an incredibly disciplined organized crime network they were super careful not to use cell phones are communications devices that can be tracked he said Bochy didn't have any one of the top commanders would sometimes show up at a house where David was being held and he be completely alone because he figured the drones overhead would be looking for Commander moving around with bodyguards the like both David and the side and tuck here or moved all the time his first AB can tell the house to house system works sort of like a franchise each family that took them would get some share in the prisoners either some money or maybe they had family members who are prisoners whom they wanted released as part of a deal to exchange David warehouses from two to four to five weeks at a time and is that um is there a logic to the moving that you can discern is it just like we you can't you just can't stand in place for jogging and we found out or is it like I think I think that I mean again I have this huge advantage because I have these two Afghans of internet with me and they're hearing all kinds of conversations there talking to the boys who bring in bread and so you know I was told now and then add families would get tired of holding us because it was very dangerous for them there everyone was very afraid there'll be a drone strike to kill me and all their family would be killed when they held me in densely populated neighborhoods it was because they at the nearby children they hoped would prevent the US from Canada on strike to kill me because it would kill so many civilians at the same time are those like tiny family are they who are those people who are keeping you or do they just like bust into anyone's house and be like we're going to hang out here for a while and I think they I think they only kept us in the homes of commanders and families that they feel they can trust the most because they were constantly terrified of spies him they were rounding up local people accusing them of guiding drone strikes saying them the young guards particular are staying in the intelligence commanders House would come home everyday with the cell phones and possessions of men they executed that day by God's spies and guiding drone strikes and is that like Did you know that the timers at something you understood only later night on me I mean again I was learning all the stuff that I hear one of the last houses David was held in Hemet Mullah Sunday in the guide would later take charge of those custody they only had one conversation but Davidson Gene mean an impression he seemed more radical than my guards he was now deeply incredibly and angrily anti American I can check I think that there was a joke wanted his men about telling me or my head off or something like that it was it was much more aggressive than other commanders hourly the execution videos the sickness the cost and toying with you about what I think I'll let whether they can kill you and the cultural chasm between David talks about all that echoes so squarely with the OCS has that my captivity angry me because they weren't the money or prisoners or fame they wanted and a sort of became disgusted with me dirty because I was a non believer because I wasn't Muslim I was impure and was having stomach problems and diarrhea you know I was because of the conditions held and eventually they sort of you know ordered me to stop washing dishes that I did a sort of appease them and stay live they stop wind he near me because I was a sort of dirty animal in their minds and in moments there was an older man he at he came in a nice selection of the younger guards that they shouldn't see me as dirty grill and he said that David is God's creation Annie took this he said he would take this piece of bread he was holding and I can eat it David Kenney this piece of bread and take it out of his mouth without swallowing it and the man said he would take that piece of bread and place in his own mouse because that's what the Prophet talk and you should treat all humans he mainly at this so interesting why do you think he cared how they thought of you well I think that I mean this is the moment there's a civil war and the Islamic world for the interpretation is faith and I saw examples of the Islam the moderate Islam I saw practiced in Bosnia and Pakistan Afghanistan and Iraq so you there was this one older said that to them but he was surrounded by these young deluded men whose whole identity was you know that there was only the strict interpretation of Islam that anyone who didn't follow their interpretation of Islam deserve to die anyone who lived they literally told me that anyone who lived Karzai government in Afghanistan or the Musharraf government of Pakistan where were nonbelievers and deserve to die Muslims way those are infidels as well everyone and their worst they hated the Mai Mai two Afghan colleagues when aided me because they were they were moon and NASA keen I can remember all these words anymore but they were traitors did you ever have like six substantive conversations with anyone who was holding you about Diana first the first three days it was all about the war sitcom in my book in I told him about the reporting and a vase in exposing the mass executions of thousands of Muslims and I remember after I tell about my reporting in Bosnia they said that's good means are worth more money down and that's not the point of my story but there was you know there was no kind of rational conversation the the the the the bow in data did not overlap and had county custody David escaped one night along with it I hear from the compound where they were being held and they made their way over to a Pakistani military base and a half mile away they were rescued David and tie hair got out on June twenty eighth two thousand and nine POWs captured just ten days later the Davids never met never talked about but he says he feels link to an interview he kept coming back to Summerville to lead to how much better he had it and though obviously he knows it's not his fault what happened to go he feels bad he said as soon as he heard a US soldier had been grabbed by the same people who worried that he be treated harshly in part because David was treated well which helped him get away Sami Yusuf Syed Afghan reporter told me he did hear that after David escaped there are all kinds of rumors and accusations flying around that someone had been paid off in fighting between counties and other Taliban the Coyotes can be trusted when news reports and Huck I suspected the Taliban guards had taken a bribe maybe there was a traitor among them so yes it does seem they weren't planning on letting it happen twice then again it may be Bo's rough treatment have more to do with the fact that he had tried to escape from them right away the first week but also when Intel guy told me the counties are savvy enough to know the difference in terms of risk in terms of danger in terms of value between an American journalist an American soldier in the beginning it seems that perhaps on Dean and the county is looking for quick an easy deal to get rid of Sami Yusuf side in an interview for us in Dubai with a high level Taliban guy there this guy wasn't directly involved with the negotiations for Bo but he heard about it from the people who were involved with this Taliban told Sammy is that initially they wanted ransom maybe some prisoners from Afghan jails which is what they'd also been asking for in David Rhodes case but then somehow the Taliban gets word from the Americans and it's not clear how or from whom exactly but the story is they get word that the Americans aren't going to pay ransom which is true by the way and furthermore that they're not going to free any prisoners because they're not too concerned with getting go back that if they can tolerate the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers in Afghanistan one soldier in captivity isn't that big a deal for the U S Army and this message if it really came but apparently son Gene got upset and his position was why are we wasting our time and our resources just kill him and that's when this guy told Sammy that someone well connected person in Pakistan told Sunday and don't kill him sit tight that's what he can guide this is a what did you know doing a good job said who knows you are patient stay this is the mode in prison and said that to Joel K high knees are willing to wait which means bow also it's the one defense official told me if you could set aside the circumstances of those capture of course you can't but if you could go would be a huge success story for the Army has twenty three year old head no trading manages not only to survive but to resist P O W and most extraordinary perhaps he does it alone in isolation there's no one else in the recent history of the Army with a story like that Terrence Russell as principal de prefer testified at a military hearing in September Russell is an undisputed expert on the stuff during his career his depraved Are interviewed About hundred and twenty five W's and possibly more than anyone in the country the hearing Russell was asked basically how bad did go have at the society have to go back to the jungle camps of Vietnam to begin to compare quotes surgeon Firdaus experience and I don't know sir that I can give you a percentage but his experience ranks at the same echelon of the most horrible conditions of captivity that we've seen sixty years and quote the after Bo was rescued and they took him to hospital in Germany Bo asks them to take the cock off the wall was and who can deal with time seeing it delineated like that it had taken him years as a captive to wean himself off of time often when he's locked in I be a light on all the time the cars in the calendar became Indian troubles the way we really matter because only they can really understand the how long the second lap I mean that's what a cute artist is just the second man is if you're not in tomorrow you're not in the next week next month you're in the second and then it can last an eternity I knew I was feeling every second and the fact that there was nothing there I mean you can be about time you're able to distract yourself reading a book or doing something yeah that you concentrate your mind we don't have any of that yeah staying there and it turns into repetition I might turn into a broken record on the loopy because at some point you have only so much about right you're yeah yes the situation the only thing that you're going to take such as will I get through today cool given to me why did the girl gave it to me yesterday look annoyed it to me or something I can do to make them give it may not make it look like I'm trying to get it by the way depriving someone of any discernible schedule is a time honored method of keeping her prisoner compliant Bo said it was maddening the obsessive thoughts maybe do an Abbott and Costello bit has had that line from the Johnny Cash song I fell into of fire the city can remember the rest or he'd look and look and look at the rim around him not in search of something new just because that's all he had to look at the the uh the for the getting was the or whatever to the wall in the shadow edge of the Army and the oh so moving the hand the years the interface The The The baby ball like crazy he didn't he says he didn't have a little easier if he had but he did in fact a psychologist we talked to who is on its ear team that planned for his return he said that they assume if you survive captivity you're more or less psychologically healthy PTSD maybe not crazy because as soon as you start to lose your mind your chances of surviving go down he spanned say five years trying to get food and water trying to escape the need to keep your mind intact for all that still sanity and go situation is psychologically exhausting because you're simultaneously bored afraid and hyper aware combination other P O W's described Mark asked Oh did you tell yourself stories did you try to disappear and your imagination and surprisingly both said Not really he said he'd forced himself to stay in the present not succumb to what he calls his fantastic storybook tendencies since that's partly what got him in trouble in the first place anyway even if he'd wanted to drift off any just couldn't setting a choice about it pain he said is a great distract or he might spend an entire day just dealing with his feet where the cramps from dehydration or from starvation his body was demanding his full immediate attention Bo says even when he was kind of ready to give up his body was stubborn nagging doing its own thing to the wise is simply because my body quit when food came he meant his body just took it he be so cold but his body would struggle to get warm the point when a movie around a girl dress for me because you know anything I touch on infidel or copper or cause everything I touch is dirty lately thankfully they left the dress in the Burke a room by the EU that is warm but even with that wrapped around my shoulders the juror I ask for more blankets in July at one but there was a guy who is that guy he is giving me an extra blanket I don't mean the human has some some good deeds you know him and good qualities especially if somebody has had to listen hold listened and troubles in oi and I can say for sure of course I think it's possible the guy who gave the blanket was a cut in by Brock semi interviewed him for Mark's company page one older guy maybe fifty and married on the hook on his longtime cook for them and their people for many years the city was made lunch for Osama bin Laden he retired and moved back to his village from M Shah but he told Sammy that one day if years ago he got a call to come to a job that I'm Allison Dean takes him to a remote farmhouse there's no road you have to hike way out to it I'm not sure but it's possible this place was somewhere in the show while Valley couple hours from earshot the team gives him an AK forty seven and tells him the whole area is mined don't leave the house and you see anyone approach shoes inside the house Iraq says he sees his guests I guess he means prisoners a blue eyed foreigner in one small dark room and some rich Afghan guy in another room he said they were all stuck out there and while the two prisoners three guards in Iraq cars were allowed walkie talkies or phones couple times a week someone might show up they'd use a code word to the land in Sandy's Notes rock sounds like he was more than a little freaked out he says the only thing we could hear there was noise of drones dangerous animal crying dangerous animal cries at night and scary deep darkness yeah yeah Mountain as a nighttime is quite scary you know it's very scary how kind of bad animals
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S02 Episode 04: The Captors

S02 Episode 04: The Captors

This American Life