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Kidnapped by the Taliban: David Rohde to share his story at Willamette

Harbarnigar is the Dari word for journalist. Salaam: the Arabic expression of peace. New York Times journalist David Rohde recalls crying out those words in an attempt to save his life as he was tied up, blindfolded and taken hostage in the Afghan desert in November 2008.

Rohde was on his way to interview a Taliban commander for his research on Afghanistan and Pakistan when his vehicle was overtaken and he, an Afghan journalist, and their driver were taken hostage.

Rohde will visit Willamette University Nov. 2 to recount his seven-month, ten-day-long captivity in the midst of a thriving Taliban mini-state. He was in the company of fedayeen — suicide bombers, Qari — one who has memorized the Qur'an, and the alleged abettors of Osama Bin Laden.

His harrowing account recalls details of his capture and captivity: the 20-by-20-foot dirt room with only blankets, the constant fear of death and the instability of his captors. Not to mention a suffocating guilt toward his wife and family after promising to never put them through his absence again — in 1995, he was held captive for ten days in Bosnia after discovering mass graves of more than 7,000 Muslim men who had been executed in Srebrenica.

Rohde also faced the harsh reality of hate that the American presence in the Middle East has perpetuated. His forthcoming book, "A Rope and a Prayer," will detail his experiences and new insights into the war — but those who attend his Willamette lecture will hear his story before the book is released.

Lecture and Ticket Info

Rohde's lecture begins at 8 p.m. Nov. 2 in Smith Auditorium. Tickets are available now at the Information Center on the first floor of Putnam University Center.

For the campus community, the first is free, and subsequent tickets are $10. Tickets for the general public are $20, and discounts are available for Willamette alumni. Info: www.willamette.edu/events/atkinson_lecture/ticket_info.

10-14-2010