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

NY Times used contractor with CIA ties, considered a $2 million ransom payment.

ByABC News
May 26, 2009, 11:24 AM

June 23, 2009— -- The New York Times used a private security company with ties to the CIA to bribe Taliban guards as part of its seven month effort to gain the freedom of reporter David Rohde and two others taken hostage with him in Afghanistan, according to people involved in the case.

The bribes were reportedly paid in small amounts of only a few hundred dollars at a variety of locations where Rhode was held. It was not clear what role, if any, they may have played in Rohde's daring escape early Saturday.

The company, the Boston-based American International Security Corporation, AISC, also proposed a possible armed assault to free Rohde but called off those plans when Rohde was moved from Afghanistan into Pakistan where such an assault was deemed more difficult to pull off, the people said.

Rohde and Afghan journalist Tahir Ludin escaped early Saturday morning from a Taliban compound in Miranshah, Pakistan, a city of 150,000 people considered a stronghold of the Taliban.

In an account published in the New York Times, Ludin said he and Rohde had lulled the guards to sleep by a long evening playing board games. Ludin said he and Rohde then used a length of rope he had hidden to climb down a 20 foot wall. The Times made no mention of any effort to compromise the guards.

While some of the newspaper's executives were aware of AISC's role, people involved in the case said it was unlikely Ludin and Rohde knew the full extent of what was being done on the outside to help them.

Over the weekend, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller hinted at some behind-the scenes effort to set up the escape, saying he could not talk about "the circumstances that were created at the end" for Rohde's escape.

While some of the newspaper's executives were aware of AISC's role, people involved in the case said it was unlikely Ludin and Rohde knew the full extent of what was being done on the outside to help them.

Over the weekend, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller hinted at some behind-the scenes effort to set up the escape, saying he could not talk about \"the circumstances that were created at the end\" for Rohde's escape.

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