Freed Tal­iban hostage re­counts SEAL res­cue bid

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

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Syd­ney, Aus­tralia - An Aus­tralian teacher held cap­tive with an Amer­i­can col­league by the Tal­iban for more than three years be­lieves US spe­cial forces tried and failed six times to free them.

Ti­mothy Weeks was re­leased last month in a ‘pris­oner swap’ along with Kevin King, end­ing an or­deal that be­gan with their ab­duc­tion in 2016 out­side the Amer­i­can Univer­sity in Kabul, where they worked.

Weeks (50) told a news con­fer­ence on Sun­day he be­lieved that Navy SEAL teams tried re­peat­edly to res­cue them, some­times miss­ing them only by ‘hours’ af­ter the two hostages were moved to other lo­ca­tions by their cap­tors.

“I be­lieve, and I hope this is cor­rect, that they came in six times to try to get us, and that a num­ber of times they missed us only by hours,” Weeks said.

One at­tempt came in April this year. Weeks said he was wo­ken at 2am by his guards, who told him they were un­der at­tack from Is­lamic State fighters, and moved him into a tun­nel be­neath where they were be­ing held.

“I be­lieve now that it was the Navy SEALs com­ing in to get us,” Weeks said.

“I be­lieve they were right out­side our door. The moment that we got into the tun­nels, we were 1 or 2 me­ters un­der­ground and there was a huge bang at the

front door. And our guards went up and there was a lot of ma­chine-gun fire.”

“They pushed me over the top into the tun­nels and I fell back­wards and rolled and knocked my­self un­con­scious.”

Weeks said he and King were shifted through var­i­ous re­mote lo­ca­tions in Afghanista­n and neigh­bour­ing Pak­istan through­out their cap­tiv­ity, and were of­ten kept in tiny, win­dow­less cells.

While their lives were of­ten at risk, he said he never gave up hope of be­ing res­cued.

“I never, ever gave up hope, and I think in that sort of sit­u­a­tion, that if you give up hope, there is very lit­tle left for you,” said Weeks, flanked by his sis­ters Alyssa and Jo Carter.

“I knew that I would leave that place even­tu­ally. It just took a lit­tle longer than I ex­pected.”

While ex­press­ing thanks to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son for the work that led to their re­lease, Weeks said some Tal­iban guards he had en­coun­tered were ‘lovely people’.

“I don’t hate them at all,” he said. “And some of them, I have great re­spect for, and great love for, al­most. Some of them were so com­pas­sion­ate and such lovely, lovely people. And it re­ally led me to think about ... how did they end up like this?”

He added: “I know a lot of people don’t ad­mit this, but for me, they were sol­diers. And sol­diers obey the com­mands of their com­man­ders. (They) don’t get a choice.”

Weeks said he had hugged some of his Tal­iban guards when they parted com­pany on the day of his and King’s re­lease.

Still, the sight of the two US Black Hawk he­li­copters ar­riv­ing to take them away had been an enor­mous re­lief.

(AFP)

Ja­panese For­eign Min­is­ter Toshim­itsu Motegi, De­fence Min­is­ter Taro Kono with his In­dian coun­ter­part Ra­j­nath Singh and In­dia’s For­eign Min­is­ter Subrah­manyam Jais­hankar dur­ing their bi­lat­eral talks, in New Delhi on Satur­day

Tal­iban re­leased Ti­mothy Weeks last month in a pris­oner swap

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