Times Scribe Recounts Ordeal as 'Taliban Embed at Gunpoint'

Afghanis, negotiators angered by operation that killed Steven Farrell's interpreter
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2009 3:01 AM CDT
Sultan Munadi, 34, who was working as an interpreter, was killed in a firefight early yesterday after he was abducted with Times reporter Stephen Farrell.   (AP Photo/ The New York Times, Tyler Hicks)
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(Newser) – Four days in the hands of the Taliban often felt more like a tour of insurgent territory than a hostage ordeal, writes rescued New York Times journalist Stephen Farrell. The militants struck his interpreter, Sultan Munadi, with a rifle when the two were seized, but did not mistreat them afterward—though Munadi was killed in the rescue. The militants moved them to safe houses in daylight, and appeared to have complete control, he notes. Farrell "felt like a military embed, except at gunpoint," he writes.

Afghan journalists are furious that Munadi's body was left behind while British commandos flew Farrell to safety, the Washington Post reports. "He died trying to help me, right up to the very last seconds of his life," writes Farrell. Hostage negotiators expressed shock and anger that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown ordered the rescue when they were just days away from securing Farrell's release. The operation was "totally heavy-handed," a Western official told the Times of London.