Taliban Guards 'Bribed' To Help David Rohde's Daring Escape Plan

No ransom was paid, according to the New York Times, but the possibility that money would be paid set off a contentious debate inside the New York Times newsroom with some of Rohde's colleagues in New York and overseas arguing that any payment would set a dangerous precedent.

Keller, and New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. over-ruled the objections and left the door open to a possible payment, according to the people involved. At the same time they also pursued several other diplomatic and back-channel tracks, including contacts with former Pakistani officials thought to have sway with the Taliban and Haqqani.

News Executives Often Advised to Make Ransom Offers

The Times reportedly moved more than a million dollars in cash to the region and its negotiators reportedly thought they could get Haqqani to agree to a $2 million payment.

News executives are often advised to make offers of ransom, if only to keep the negotiations open in hope that some other event or development will intervene.

In 1982, NBC News was prepared to pay a ransom of $50,000 for me and 18 other Americans who had been hijacked on a plane in Honduras. The Americans on the plane ultimately escaped without ransom being paid, but the cash had been flown into the country just in case.

More recently, journalists kidnapped in Iraq and Afghanistan have been released after long negotiations that involved ransom payments which were never publicly disclosed.

Even when news organizations have made the difficult to decision to pay ransom, the money is often routed through third party individuals or governments. Saudi Arabia has often played a role in such situations, according to former intelligence officials.

It is the official policy of the United States that ransom should not be paid to terrorist groups for the release of hostages, although that policy was ignored by the Reagan administration to gain the release of hostages taken at the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

As the negotiations for Rohde continued, Haqqani and his Taliban group sought to gain attention to its prisoner by releasing three different videos showing Rohde in captivity. The U.S. military was able to obtain one of the videos and reportedly showed it to Rohde's distressed wife, Kristin, who had married him only two months before he was kidnapped.

Rohde is with Family in Dubai

The New York Times kept Rohde's plight secret throughout the seven-month ordeal and asked others news outlets, including ABC News, to do the same. Keller said experts and Rohde's family felt "a storm of publicity would at best prolong David's captivity by increasing his apparent value, and could well put him in imminent danger."

Rohde, who is in Dubai resting and spending time with his family, has not publicly talked about his captivity or escape other than to confirm the account given by his fellow hostage Ludin.

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