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,