Facing terror

Facing terror

: The British journalist kidnapped by Iraqi thugs and then released tells his amazing story in Sunday’s Telegraph. James Brandon writes:

I was blindfolded by a sheet soaked in my own blood and could see nothing. “Who are you? What are you?” the Arabic voices snarled in broken English. “Are you CIA? Are you an Israeli spy?” The voices, many of them, seemed to boom from all around the room.

All I could feel was the cold steel of the muzzle of one of my abductors’ pistols being pressed to my temple. Then came a chilling silence . . . broken only, seconds later, by the terrifying metallic click of the trigger being pulled.

It was the first of a series of mock executions. In all, four men took turns to put their guns to my head and pull the trigger. The first time, I didn’t know the weapon wasn’t loaded. It felt surreal . . . like a bad film.

I kept shouting “Sahafi, sahafi” (journalist). But they were raging. I was pistol-whipped. They screamed in my face, calling me an animal. They were an unreasoning mob, driven by hatred. At that point, after hours of fear and uncertainty about my fate, all I could think was: they are going to kill me.

He actually escaped once (only to be recaptured):

I assumed I was going to be killed, and decided to try to make a break for it. I worked off my blindfold, which was quite loose, and managed to untie the rope that ran behind me, linking my feet to my hands. Through the darkness, I made out the shape of a large stove, and realised that I was in a kitchen.

With difficulty, I got to my feet, hobbled over to the sink and found a knife on the draining board. Holding the blade behind my back, I started to saw through the ropes joining my wrists. Soon the knife was slippery with blood as I nicked my flesh in my frantic haste to sever the ropes. Eventually, the fibres parted and I quickly freed my feet, too. The windows were barred, so my only exit was through the door, which I worked out must be tied shut by a rope.

Putting my fingers through a crack in the wooden door, I loosened the rope and tugged at the door – only to realise that someone outside the room was holding it shut. I wrenched it open and saw a woman in a nightshirt standing there. I felt cold, clinical and desperate to escape at all costs. In an Indiana Jones moment, I grabbed her by the neck, slammed her against a wall, pressed my knife to her throat and hissed at her: “Help me, or I will kill you.”

Publicity is what saved him. Even murdering thugs worry about their PR:

They had a television on and I heard my name mentioned on al-Arabiya. I heard the men saying to one another,

  • Kat

    Danny Pearl lost his life because he was a Jew because our muslim ‘militants’ aka ‘terrorists’, hate Jews.
    {I kept shouting “Sahafi, sahafi” (journalist). But they were raging. I was pistol-whipped. They screamed in my face, calling me an animal. They were an unreasoning mob, driven by hatred. At that point, after hours of fear and uncertainty about my fate, all I could think was: they are going to kill me.} I wonder is the UN and all those who made such hay about Abu Ghraib will be outraged at these muslim thugs. Do they have to follow the rules of the Geneva C. or are muslims exempt from decency??

  • Oat

    Scary story, but you forgot to mention the part about him publically thanking his kidnappers after his release.

  • Kat

    I watched that public thanks. I thought the guy’s eyes were going to pop out of his head–his face was one of fear–the guy was scared shitless–he said what they told him to.
    He said he was treated well~~~~~~~~I guess well means no beheading.

  • Yep to comments. Anybody see the Red Cross hollering about human rights like they usually do?? I haven’t.
    And yes to “blog” in spite-a m’self… And I’m grateful. Yet most armchair quarterbacks ‘covering’ the Iraq story…?!?
    And this is what ALL ‘REPORTERS’ call an “insurgent” or a “militant”. You see, al Sadr has “a militia”..
    ..you understand….
    There are almost no terrorists, and saw an article (in The Press) for the first time in a while that even HAD the word “terrorist” in it.
    “Islamic terrorist”, to be precise. You see, you have “insurgents” and “militants”, just like in Haiti is the semi-subtle brand-image being layed out in the ‘master’ narrative.. With a couple or few “terrorists”, right, who make these “insurgents” and “militants” look worse than they are, right?
    I consider some of this so-called coverage by The Press to be a near-treasonable offense. Any coverage on what’s going on in Iraq that does NOT include the word “terrorist” to describe terrorists and their associates and henchmen and ‘acquaintances’ and well-wishers and what all…
    And I consider also, in my opinion, that calling ‘Fahrenheit 911’ and/or reporting ‘Fahrenheit 911’ “a documentary” (sic) to be, in actual fact, treason. That is a lot of my opinion on the bias in The Press, and how they’ve gotten a “Libertarian Lobotomy”.
    There was a headline yesterday, but that one didn’t stay up long, iirc “Fahrenheit 911 enflames Arabs around Globe”. Might-a been interesting article, but no ‘news’ to those that read more news than blogs.
    Or, rather, understand the difference.

  • Joe Baby

    This guy might have created (actually, re-created) the genre of ass-kicking journalist.

  • I sit corrected, as my Sister (one of the leading Scientists in the U.S. in her field.. the one I’m not “allowed” to mention) used the word “documentary” to describe 911. She’s not capable of treason.. I know that.
    But it is extremely hard to tell between when someone is knowingly stating a lie, and unknowingly repeating a lie they’ve been taught. For me, and I think most everyone… Interesting (to me), in this case, is that my Sister and her family do not have a TV. So all the bleating about the Net as the smart media and TV the dumb one… ? Uhhhhh… Not so fast.
    But, im’h’o (in my ‘honest’ opinion) someone should talk to my Sister. Other ‘n me, as it was hard enough telling her I might vote for a Republican in ‘Prez beauty-contest’ last weekend.. first time since ’72. I don’t think me and my family are gonna be talking much politics next few months, if ever.

  • James Jay is off his typing meds.
    Thanks for the conclusion Jeff. If we hadn’t invaded few if any American lives would be in danger in Iraq.

  • “If we hadn’t invaded few if any American lives would be in danger in Iraq.”
    Andrew, that has got to be the dumbest comment anyone has ever made about any subject anywhere. “Think people think” my ass.

  • Timothy Lang

    Glad they let him go. He is the model of the Intrepid Journalist, a breed that I hope will not die out any time soon. Sure, there’s plenty of hacks (I once worked in a TV newsroom where every Saturday morning at 5 o’clock the cry would come over the PA whoever has the “City Bird Cage Liner” (name of paper changed to protect the innocent & guilty) please return it to the producer’s desk!) but many are still in the biz because they want THE STORY, whatever it is, at whatever cost.
    Brandon was lucky his terrorist captors had a TV, and that they were watching the news and not I Love Lucy re-runs. Reminds me somewhat of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, when Delmar, about to be hanged, tells The Law that our pardon went out on the radio! and The Law responds (with a smile) Well…we ain’t got no radio.

  • trump

    Reporters are garbage. What happens to them is of no consequence to me. The media needs to be taught a lesson…

  • Betty Kobernuss

    Please, everyone, (especially James Jay Trouble) use an old-fashioned but still usefull book–it’s called a dictionary.
    Michael Moore can justifiably call his film a “documentary”. A documentary is what it creator wants it to be. Documentaries are not necessarily true.
    Once I had an essay professor who insisted that his students look up nearly every word we wrote. It was very time consuming, but it was also revealing. As the saying goes, “Words are all we have.” Let’s not make up our own definitions.

  • Franky

    Trump you really are a contemptible piece of slime, aren’t you?
    Feeling the contrast between the journalist who had the balls to go cover a war you supported from your armchair, are you?
    I don’t blame you for being a coward Trump. Many people are scared of many different things and many like you have no backbone to support with action what you believe in. What I do find objectionable (but thoroughly inkeeping with a coward’s personality) is your insistence on criticising people who do have courage.

  • It’s a shame “trump” had to use the name of one of my favorite heroes, because I do think this story was very inspiring and that this reporter — above and beyond — was daringly brave! Wow.
    Yeah, it’s always easier to say stuff when you’re not experiencing the ordeal…

  • Rachel

    James Jay,
    just because your scientist sister says it’s a doc doesn’t mean you have to accept her definition. I don’t trust Moore; I see him as simply exploitive. I call his films and works op-eds and propoganda. and to me every Moore supporter is twisting his/herself in the wind for verification.
    If you want true anti-Iraq/ anti-Bush ideas, I would trust Austrailian filmmaker John Pilger.