7 Months, 10 Days in Taliban’s Captivity: Story of David Rohde
After New York Times’s reporter David Rohde escaped from his Taliban captors in Pakistan last year, the Pakistani intelligence services interrogated two of his guards — and then let them go, investigative journalist Aram Roston reports.
The Pakistani ISI “interrogators demanded to know exactly how Rohde had escaped. Who had let him go, and why? … In other words, the ISI was making sure that the relations between the Taliban factions weren’t destroyed by anyone’s betrayal,” Roston writes:
This [Afghan] source’s account reveals how Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) serves as an arbiter for the various Taliban groups that compete with one another for influence, loot and profits. According to the source, the ISI, acting on behalf of one Taliban faction, took two of Rohde’s guards into custody to interrogate them about how he escaped. Then, despite its knowledge of the men’s role in the kidnapping, the ISI simply set them free. …
In Pakistan, Rohde’s escape was devastating for the Taliban. Not only had they lost their prize prisoner but the loss caused the Haqqanis and Najibullah to turn on each other. […]
To arbitrate the dispute about the kidnapping, the Haqqanis turned to the Pakistan government’s intelligence service …
The guards were allegedly interrogated fiercely and tortured by the ISI. The interrogators demanded to know exactly how Rohde had escaped. Who had let him go, and why? Were the men paid a ransom they had not shared? In other words, the ISI was making sure that the relations between the Taliban factions weren’t destroyed by anyone’s betrayal.
Once the ISI was convinced that there had been no bribes and no ransom, Rohde’s guards were set free. Despite their role in the kidnapping, they were not charged in court or handed over to the Americans. After more than a month in custody, they were let go.
I asked Rohde for his reaction to this information. “It’s very disturbing that the Pakistani authorities would not keep in custody people that were involved in my kidnapping,” he said. “If they had two of my guards in their custody and then released them, that seems to fit a broader pattern of the ISI sheltering the Taliban.”