An Italian journalist skillfully recounts his 15 terror-filled days and nights in the hands of the Taliban.
In the spring of 2007, La Repubblica correspondent Mastrogiacomo sought to interview a commander of the resurgent Taliban in Helmand province. Upon his arrival, the reporter—draped in a native shalwar to honor his subject—was abducted along with his interpreter and his driver. At the hands of captors brandishing Kalashnikovs, they were transported across the desert in the trunk of a car and shifted from prison to prison to avoid detection. The captors’ pious objective, a return to the ancient, halcyon world of the Prophet, was aided by modern firepower, satellite phones and video cameras. Their captives, blindfolded and bound, were bodies to be bartered. The prisoners were beaten, flogged and humiliated by young mujahideen who were laughing and singing and ready to die. Mastrogiacomo, accused of being spy, conversed and debated with his keepers. Without the benefit of contemporaneous notes, the author reconstructs, in present-tense journal form, the events of his captivity and the circumstances of his eventual release. He displays no signs of Stockholm syndrome. Mastrogiacomo, who witnessed the beheading of his driver, hates his duplicitous jihadi tormentors, and he presents a searing, frightening tale.
Graphic and harrowing.