If you haven’t yet actually read the AP account of how the hostages in Colombia — including three U.S. citizens — were rescued yesterday, you should. It’s an incredible story, and the Colombian army deserves major thanks from on behalf of all Americans for their skill and heroism:
The stunning caper involved months of intelligence gathering, dozens of helicopters on standby and a strong dose of deceit: The rebels shoved the captives, their hands bound, onto a white unmarked Mi-17 helicopter, believing they were being transferred to another guerrilla camp.
Looking at helicopter’s crew, some wearing Che Guevara shirts, Betancourt reasoned they weren’t aid workers, as she’d expected — but rebels. This was just another indignity — the helicopter “had no flag, no insignia.” Angry and upset, she refused a coat they offered as they told her she was going to a colder climate.
But not long after the group was airborne, Betancourt turned around and saw the local commander, alias Cesar, a man who had tormented her for four years, blindfolded and stripped naked on the floor.
Then came the unbelievable words: “We’re the national army,” said one of the crewmen. “You’re free.”
The helicopter crew were soldiers in disguise. Cesar and the other guerrilla aboard had been persuaded to hand over their pistols, then overpowered.
“The helicopter almost fell from the sky because we were jumping up and down, yelling, crying, hugging one another,” Betancourt said.
Read the whole thing here.