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By David Rohde

The compelling and insightful account of a New York Times reporter's abduction via the Taliban, and his wife's fight to loose him.

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He is deeply dis­ appointed with the United States’ failure to deliver on its promises of stability and reconstruction. A proud Afghan nationalist, he is tired of meddling by foreign countries in his country and wants Afghans to be allowed to decide their own fate. Millions 35 Asad is twenty-four years old and a scrappy Afghan survivor. He is rail thin, has jet-black hair and beard and dark eyes. Pashtun as well, his fam­ ily originally hails from Khost province, but Asad was born and raised in Kabul.

18 A ROPE A N D A PRAYE R As my Taliban captors blared prayers over the car radio and celebrated the capture of their quarry, a new meaning enveloped the sweeping ques­ tion I had grandly posed to myself in 2001: how can religious extrem­ ism be curbed? My life and the lives of Tahir and Asad now hinged on whether we could find a way to placate our captors, gain their sympathy, and stop them from killing us. As I lay powerless in the backseat, the question was simple: how do we survive? Our kidnapper, Atiqullah, eyes me suspiciously in the living room of the house where Tahir, Asad, and I have been taken.

In truth, we are strangers. The three of us have never worked together before. Tahir has been working with foreign journalists since 2001 and adores the pro­ fession. He brightens when he speaks about other foreign and Afghan journalists we both know. Thirty-four years old, he is a university­ educated and religious Afghan who hails from the southern province of Zabul. He has two wives and is the father of seven children, all of whom he moved to Kabul three years ago. He opposed the 2001 inva­ sion of Afghanistan and like many Afghans now views the American and NATO troop presence as a foreign occupation.

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