Two-time Pulitzer prize winner David Rohde discussed his seven-month captivity with the Taliban as part of the "9/11, Today and Tomorrow" speakers series Wednesday night at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site, 20 Vesey St. The New York Times reporter discussed the “Taliban mini-state” that is “alive and thriving in Pakistan.”
During Rohde’s "Escaping the Taliban" event, he detailed the nature of Taliban militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He said militants there are much different than homegrown terrorists, and they have a "glorified culture of death."
Rohde also spoke of his time in captivity with Taliban soldiers. Rohde was kidnapped and held from November 2008 to June 2009, when he eventually escaped using a car rope slung out of a window. He said that his captors were very hospitable, treating him “very well.”
“They saw me as the golden hen to lay their golden egg,” said Rohde, who was held with two other men, an Afghan journalist, Tahir Luddin, and their driver, Asad Mangal.
Rohde took time to answer questions from the audience, many of them relating to his kidnapping and escape.
“I was kidnapped because I was American,” he said, discussing how Taliban militants believe the U.S. government would pay millions of dollars for hostages.
When answering a question about what can be done to combat the Taliban, Rohde said the U.S. government needs to support moderate Muslims in those countries. He said independent and moderate Muslims can help portray the real facts about the U.S. and events such as 9/11, a day that many Pakistanis and Afghans don’t believe happened, dismissing the attacks as a publicity stunt to justify military occupation.
Rohde said the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is a “special place" to him because he lived in New York City and was standing on Broadway Street during the Sept. 11 attacks.
After his return to the United States, Rohde was able to bring his fellow escapee, Luddin, to the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site to show his Afghan friend that the events were real. He said the memorial will help to inform the public about Sept. 11.
“It’s a really magical place," Rohde said.
By Meghan Walsh, Communications Associate for the 9/11 Memorial