I Longed For US Special Forces To Rescue Me

Every day I was held captive, I hoped the door would burst open and that special forces would arrive to rescue me. I used to prepare myself for what I should do if they did come – sit still, shout in English that I was the hostage, and keep my arms by my side: the things I had picked up after working closely with military for 10 years.

It was two months before I knew that negotiations were under way, and every moment of that time I would be thinking: “Should I wait to be rescued? Should I try to escape?”

They were holding me and my fixer in a dark room on a family compound, and after about two months they let us into a walled garden at night, and I thought: “Should I make a run for it now?” But then, even if I did escape, I knew there were Taliban and al-Qaida training camps in the mountains all around. You could hear them firing. And I knew that if I was caught, I would be killed.

Of course, the other side of this dilemma that played on my mind is that if the kidnappers did walk through the door and say they were going to kill [me], I knew my last thought would be: “Why didn’t you try and escape?”

After I was released, my mother told me that she had prayed that they would not try to rescue me, and I think that underlines that this is something that, in the end, you can only judge with the advantage of hindsight. Each course of action – negotiation, escape or rescue – has its own risks and it is only after the event that you can really judge whether or not it has been a success.

But I remember very clearly when I was on the phone to Channel 4 back in London and the kidnappers had my fixer on his knees in front of me with an AK47 to his head, saying they were going to kill him. At that moment, I desperately wanted US special forces to swoop down and rescue us.

Note – This article was first published in The Guardian, 12th October 2010 following the failed rescue by US Navy Seals of British hostage Linda Norgrove in Afghanistan.