IPI HomeEventsSpeakers EventsKidnapped by the Taliban: An Escapee's and Spouse's Tale

 

print print  |  share share back back

Speaker Events - Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kidnapped by the Taliban: An Escapee's and Spouse's Tale

In November 2008, David Rohde, a correspondent for The New York Times, went off on a high-hazard trip in the Afghan hinterland to obtain an in-person interview with a Taliban commander for a book he was completing. He had just gotten married and had promised his new bride as well as his family and friends that he would never put himself at risk of capture again after having been taken hostage in 1995 by Bosnian Serbs and held for ten days.

The scheduled meeting, however, was a trap. Rohde was kidnapped, and as he was being driven away by his Taliban captors, his horror was mixed with intense guilt that he was about to expose his loved ones once more to the trials of becoming a hostage.

Over a seven-month period, Rohde was spirited from safe house to safe house in Afghanistan and in Pakistani tribal areas that are completely in hands of the most fearsome Taliban. One day, he thinks he may be freed. The next he is certain he is to die.

During that period, his wife Kristen Mulvihill navigates the labyrinth of government and intelligence officials in Washington and Islamabad, private contractors and editors at The Times and family members, all the while trying to hold down a new job at Cosmopolitan magazine.

Rohde finally effects a daring escape, recounted with breathless suspense in A Rope and A Prayer: A Kidnapping from Two Sides, the affecting book that he and his wife have written about the dramatic episode.

They held a large IPI audience rapt on the evening of February 24th, reading passages from the book, embellishing them with comments and stories, talking movingly of their faith and love and capping those personal observations with recommendations on how the West should deal with the Taliban.

"There is a tremendous amount of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, but that doesn't make you pro-Taliban," Rohde said. "They actually dislike the Taliban intensely at the same time and they’re sort of eager for some sort of third way forward.

"Everyone is looking for steady jobs, you know, a good education for their children and a government and a police force that sort of protects them instead of preying on them.

"The Taliban are saying that strict Sharia will deliver those three things. You know, we’re saying democracy will.

"And you know, we’re not succeeding. The effort is not working."

The moderator was IPI’s Vice President for External Relations, Warren Hoge.

 Read transcript

To listen to the podcast, click the "play" button:

The Global Observatory

CWhat Makes a Terrorist Stop Being a Terrorist?
A close look at terrorist de-radicalization programs shows that it is still unclear whether they work, and if so, how.

Key Global Events to Watch in November
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

November 25, 2014
Independent Commission on Multilateralism Launched in Vienna
The Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM) was launched officially in Vienna on November 25th. The event was held at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs and opened by Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.

November 13, 2014
Experts Forum: Assessing Links Between Peacebuilding and Organized Crime
Organized crime and peacebuilding can be seen as separate issues, but recent research and practice suggest the two are deeply linked—conflict is increasingly fueling crime, and crime in turn makes peace harder to achieve.

November 05, 2014
Top-Down Governance Hurts Women, Youth Participation
Governments in the Sahel and Maghreb are still using top-down approaches to governance that make it hard for women and youth to have a say in public life, even though their participation can help their governments’ struggle against instability and extremism.

View More