Media Blog

Newsweek Interviews the Taliban

Newsweek has a piece up on the South Korean hostages including parts of interviews they’ve had with some of the leaders of the Taliban kidnappers. Some excerpts:

The gunmen, who were communicating with Abdullah by walkie-talkie and cell phones, quickly ordered the bus driver to drive off the highway and into a nearby village that is located in the region’s flat, desert-like and rocky plain. The gunmen ordered their hostages out of the bus and quickly began dividing them into small groups. Knowing that the Taliban and the prisoners would be vulnerable if they stayed together, Abdullah’s and other Taliban units that quickly rushed to the scene divided the 23 South Koreans into five groups and transported them on the back of motorcycles and in pickup trucks to widely dispersed locations.


NEWSWEEK was able to piece together this exclusive look at how the South Koreans were captured and where they have been taken through satellite telephone conversations with several Taliban commanders involved in the hostage-taking operation. According to a senior provincial commander who does not want to be named, the Taliban almost immediately issued their demands to the Afghan government that the 23 South Korean hostages would be released in a swap for 115 Taliban prisoners in a five-to-one exchange. As the negotiations with the Afghan government dragged on, the commander says he reduced his demands to an even exchange of 23 Taliban prisoners for the South Koreans. Now he says he will exchange the hostages for eight prisoners whose names he has delivered to Kabul government officials. According to the commander, Afghan officials have been delaying the negotiations by telling him that the Afghan government is not holding all the men, that some are being held at the U.S. base at Bagram, near Kabul, and that Washington won’t agree to release its prisoners.


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