Nightmare In Paradise
Nightmare in Paradise; When Journalist Sean Langan Set out to Investigate the Kidnapping of Two Britons in Kashmir, It Was the Start of an Odyssey in Which He Encountered Some of the World’s Most Dangerous Men and Was Recruited by the FBI . . . before Fate Dealt a Final Extraordinary Twist
In 1997 Sean Langan travelled to Kashmir to investigate the disappearance of four hostages. After enduring fruitless months, Sean Langan is close to a meeting with one of the kidnappers. Finally, he is called to a meeting in the mountains, where a situation he could not have foreseen makes him rethink his position…
‘We drove for five hours before heading off the main road and down dirt tracks. At least they had been dirt tracks before the winter snow set in: now they were more like toboggan runs. It was hopeless. We were nowhere near the village where lbrahim’s men said they would meet us, and our car refused to budge.
There was nothing else for us to do but walk. ‘Mr Langan,’ my man said. ‘It’s at least 12 miles. Why don’t we go back?’ Back? I had’nt spent five months of my life waiting this moment to arrive only to turn back.
I took my bag out of the car and started to walk. Where to? I wasn’t sure. But I was determined to meet Ibrahim, and if that meant standing on top of a mountain and shouting his name, then it was worth a try. Perhaps out of pity more than anything else, my man caught up with me and led me to a nearby village. There we were told by the locals that all the roads were completely blocked, so we might as well turn back. That was when my luck changed. Out the corner of my eye I spied a truck parked behind a house – one of those great big orange beasts that traverse the length and breadth of India.
How much for your truck?’ I asked. ‘I want to borrow it.’ The bemused owner looked at me as though I was deranged, but then he looked at my money. Finally he agreed. ‘Right then,’ I said,’let’s go.’
Any hope that we might make the make the meeting unobserved by army patrols now seemed distant, as we set off through the snow-covered valley in our bright orange truck. The fact that we were also loaded up with locals, who I had thoughtfully brought along to clear the roads, made things even more tricky.
But at least we got to the village where lbrahim’s men were waiting. And while hey seemed impressed by my ingenuity, they decided we should make the rest of the journey by foot. We were now heading deep into the mountains and deep into militant territory.
Walking behind my guides, I began to question my reasons for even agreeing to meet Ibrahim. As I waded through the snow, which was now waist-deep at points, a number of thoughts raced through my head.
I could be walking into a trap. I could be kidnapped – and if anyone asked the villagers, they would deny ever having seen me. I bet they saw the four surviving hostages walk in the same direction. But they would never tell a soul. Never. I could die out there and no one would ever know.
I was pulled out of my thoughts by the guides, who had spotted an Indian army patrol up ahead. It was too dangerous for them, they said, but it was OK for me. I thought: Why not? As long as they don’t shoot me, it can’t be worse than standing in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of militants.
There were about ten of them, crack troops from the Indo-Tibetan Border Patrol. And they were’nt at all surprised to see a British journalist walking through the mountains. They were far too busy celebrating to care about me.
When they stopped us, my man asked them why they were so happy. ‘We ambushed some militants last night,’ they said, ‘and killed an area commander. A top militant. “What was his name?’ I asked the officer in charge. ‘Muhammad Yusef,’ he boomed. ‘Code name Ibrahim.’
I couldn’t believe it. Ibrahim was dead, shot through the head a few hours before. I sat in the snow and closed my eyes. That’s it, I thought: now we’ll never know the truth. It’s buried with Ibrahim, for ever.’
Nightmare In Paradise – BBC2 1998