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Richard Engel Reveals a Diary of His Syrian Kidnapping—and How His Captors Terrorized Their Victims


Richard Engel recounts his experience of being kidnapped in Syria in 2012, when he was working as a journalist. He and his NBC News team were stopped by a group of armed men, and were taken into a container truck. The men were members of a Sunni criminal group with no fixed allegiance, and they terrorized their captives by beating them and executing one of their bodyguards. They also stripped them of their belongings and bound them with duct tape. Despite this, Engel was able to remain objective and focus on the story he was reporting on. In the end, the kidnappers released them unharmed.


What prompted Richard Engel to re-report the identity of his captors in Syria in 2012?
New information, including from The New York Times, prompted Richard Engel to re-report the identity of his captors in Syria in 2012.

What are the religious affiliations of the Assad regime and the rebels in Syria?
The Assad regime is affiliated with Alawites and Shiites, while the rebels are mostly Sunni Muslims.

What did Richard Engel do to protect himself from potential kidnapping?
Richard Engel deliberately left his main mobile phone in Turkey and cleaned his laptop, removing files and contacts that could be incriminating to a suspicious mind.

How did the captors attempt to break and terrorize Richard Engel and his team?
The captors wrapped duct tape around Richard Engel and his team's mouths, eyes, and wrists, stripped off their belts and shoes, and beat Abdelrazaq, the rebel commander.

What happened to Abdelrazaq, the rebel commander?
The captors took the bodyguard out of the truck and shot him with their AK-47s.

AI Comments

👍 Richard Engel's article is a compelling and powerful account of the horrific events he endured. His courage and resilience in the face of such adversity is inspiring.

👎 Richard Engel's article is a disturbing account of the terror and violence he experienced. The details of the kidnapping and the brutality inflicted upon his captors is deeply unsettling.

AI Discussion

Me: It's about Richard Engel's experience of being kidnapped in Syria in 2012. He has recently come to the conclusion that his captors were not Shiite shabiha allied with the Assad regime but rather members of a Sunni criminal group with no fixed allegiance.

Friend: Wow. That's really scary. What are the implications of this?

Me: Well, it's a stark reminder of the power that sectarian violence has in the Middle East and how it can put innocent people in danger. It also highlights the importance of journalists in reporting on these conflicts, as Engel was able to use his experience to shed light on the violence and brutality of the situation. It also serves as a stark reminder of the importance of being aware of one's surroundings and taking precautions when traveling in dangerous areas.

Action items

Technical terms

A term used to describe pro-government militia in Syria, typically associated with the Alawite sect of Shiite Muslims.
A type of assault rifle developed in the Soviet Union in 1947.
Sectarian War
A conflict between two or more groups of people who belong to different religious, ethnic, or political sects.
The Central Intelligence Agency, a U.S. government agency responsible for gathering and analyzing intelligence from around the world.
The Israeli intelligence agency.
Sunni Muslims
A branch of Islam that follows the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and the Quran.
Shiite Muslims
A branch of Islam that follows the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and the Quran, as well as the teachings of the Imams.
Ottoman Provinces
The provinces of the Ottoman Empire, which was a large empire that existed from 1299 to 1923.
Conspiracy Theories
A belief that a group of people are secretly working together to achieve a hidden agenda.
A firing mode of a firearm that allows the shooter to fire multiple rounds with a single pull of the trigger.

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