Escaping the Taliban

Back from the forth of July celebrations. After being at downtown Springfield IL. last night, if I was a foreign invader, I would attack the US on either July 5 or January 1. Either day it would seem the majority of the population would be too hung over to give much resistance. (This is just an observation, not a plan on my part to take over this country on January 1 2010)

And what better post following the celebration of our countries country’s freedom than the story about David Rohde. Mr. Rohde is everything I aspire to be as a journalist. He worked for the New York Times, the holiest of the holies in journalism. And he is a war correspondent.

David Rohde interview memebers of the Taliban

David Rohde interview memebers of the Taliban

With covering a war, especially one against a guerrilla force, there are inherent risk, namely death and/or capture. Mr. Rohde was a victim of the latter. On a November morning, Mr. Rohde, his fixer, Tahir Ludin, and their driver, Asadullah Mangal were captured by Taliban militants while on the way to an interview with a Taliban commander.

Mr. Rohde and his two colleagues were then held hostage for the next seven months. Mr. Rohde is, according to a New York Times blog, is reserved by nature, so the exact details have been slow to come out, but for some reason, Mr. Rohde and Thair Ludin eventually decided to take their fate into their own hands.

On June 19 the two reporters climbed the wall of the compound where they were being held and were able to make contact with a Pakistani army scout and within 48 hours after their escape were in an American military base.

Mr. Rohde and Mr. Ludin demonstrated what separates survivors from the statistics. Survivors usually they have an internal locus of control as opposed to an external locus of control, meaning they believe they have power to shape the events around them instead of the events shaping them.

Obviously both Rohde and Ludin felt they still had some kind of control over their situation, and grabbed it with both hands. Was it risky? Sure. But if you look at the examples of other war correspondents taken captive, (Daniel Pearl) staying put is just as dangerous.

Mr. Rohde story is amazing, not only in the way he obtained his freedom, but also in the fact that he survived. Many people in his situation do not. Soldiers are brave, and we owe a great deal to them, but the unsung heroes of wars are those who are willing to risk their lives to keep us on the homefront informed.

Author’s note: I had heard about this and thought it interesting, but it wasn’t until Kevin Lee mentioned it to me that I realized what a great tale of survival it is. Thank you Mr. Lee.

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