Homecoming

Life as a Taliban Hostage

After a reporting trip gone unbelievably wrong, one journalist came back with the story of a lifetime. New York Times reporter David Rohde and two Afghan colleagues spent seven months and 10 days in captivity after being taken hostage by the Taliban, and now Rohde is chronicling their capture, imprisonment, and eventual escape. The capture took place during a trip to meet with a Taliban commander, and Rohde said he had been warned of the potential risks: “Nothing is 100 percent,” a colleague told him beforehand, “you only die once.” During the drive, their car was surrounded by a group of men who beat them with guns and took the three men hostage. “I thought of my wife and family and was overcome with shame. An interview that seemed crucial hours earlier now seemed absurd and reckless,” he said. After months with extremist captors—who treated him as unclean for his lack of faith in Islam—Rohde concluded that the Taliban militants were even more extreme than he had originally thought. “They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world,” he said in the first of the five-part series.