NBC’s Richard Engel Recounts Syria Kidnapping In ‘Vanity Fair’

By Alex Weprin Comment

In a gripping excerpt, NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel writes in Vanity Fair about his kidnapping in Syria last year.

Engel wrote the article in a diary format, recounting to the minute what happened. Subscribers can read the full account, but the excerpt focuses on the kidnapping itself, as well as the murder of one of their bodyguards, and the psychological torture that ensued:

“Get going!” a gunman yelled at me in Arabic, pointing his weapon at my chest.

I looked at him blankly, pretending not to understand. Foreigners who speak Arabic in the Middle East are often assumed to be working for the C.I.A. or Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad. The gunman took me by the finger, holding on to it by the very tip. I could have pulled it away with the smallest tug.

But then what? Then go where?

John was the next to join us in the back of the truck. He walked slowly, as if being escorted to a waiting limo. John is a New Yorker and was dressed entirely in black. He has long white hair and a devilish smile, and his nickname is the Silver Fox. He and I had been in a lot of rough places—Libya, Iraq, Gaza. John, Ghazi, and Aziz were among my closest friends in the world.

At least I’ll die with my friends.