In December NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and five others were kidnapped in Syria and held for five days by loyalists of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
In the newest issue of Vanity Fair, Engel details the harrowing experience in a diary of the abduction.
Engel tells how his crew entered Syria from Turkey with a Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander to see four Iranian and two Lebanese fighters the FSA had captured — only to be kidnapped by Assad loyalists who wanted to trade the journalists for the foreign fighters.
While captive, Engel had to think fast to stay alive. Fearing torture, he thought to himself:
They’ll waterboard us now. They’ll drop electric cables into the tub as I’m standing in it. How much torture do I take before I break? Do I break right away? Do I break as soon as they whip off the blindfold and I’m looking at a tray of dental tools?
Another time he thought:
If I speak Arabic, I look like a C.I.A. agent. If I’m an agent, so is Ghazi. If Ghazi and I speak Arabic, why do we need Mustafa? They’ll discover him. He’ll be executed. We’ll be separated. God, I don’t want to be separated.
Engel was freed unharmed after five days in captivity. The veteran reporter is already back up and running with insightful coverage of Israel last week.
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