Table of Contents
ALSO BY DAVID ROHDE
Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica,
Europe’s Worst Massacre since World War II
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published in 2010 by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © David Rohde and Kristen Mulvihill, 2010
All rights reserved
Portions of this book appeared in different form in
The New York Times.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
A rope and a prayer : a kidnapping from two sides / David Rohde & Kristen Mulvihill.
eISBN : 978-1-101-44539-6
1. Rohde, David—Captivity, 2008-2009. 2. Hostages—Afghanistan—Biography.
3. Journalists—United States—Biography. 4. Afghan War, 2001—Personal narratives,
American. 5. Taliban. 6. Mulvihill, Kristen. I. Mulvihill, Kristen. II. Title.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrightable materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
Penguin is committed to publishing works of quality and integrity. In that spirit, we are proud to offer this book to our readers; however, the story, the experiences, and the words are the authors’ alone.
Every man’s hand is against the other, and all against the stranger.
—Winston S. Churchill
The fruit of patience is sweet.
For Pashtunwali: Tahir Luddin and Captain Nadeem.
For countless hours: Mary Jane Mulvihill, Lee Rohde, David McCraw.
For never giving up: Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.
For steadfast support and encouragement: Bill Keller, Jill Abramson, John Geddes, William Schmidt, Craig Whitney, Susan Chira, Matt Purdy, Christine Kay, and so many other longtime friends at
The New York Times
For friendship, insight, and bravery in Afghanistan: Afghan colleagues and friends, Carlotta Gall, Chris Chivers, Tyler Hicks, Dexter Filkins, Rich Oppel, and many others.
For friendship, insight, and bravery in Pakistan: Ismail Khan, Salman Masood, Beena Sarwar, Pir Zubair Shah, Jane Perlez, and many others.
For pointing Kristen in the right direction: Richard Holbrooke, Karl and Ching Eikenberry, Marin Strmecki, Tim Golden, Kay McGowan, Samantha Power.
For consistency, clarity, eloquence, and humor: Michael Semple.
For working on the case: “John,” Mike Taylor, Duane Clarridge, Jack Holly, Dwight, Mark, Chris, Wayne, and all the incarnations of Team Kabul.
Thank you to the government officials who tried to help us, especially Jim, Tom, Joe, John, Cathy, Phil, Leanne, Ken, Tenzen, Mike, Eric.
For help in Washington: Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt, Douglas Frantz, Milt Bearden.
For expertise: Ahmed Rashid, Rina Amiri, Barnett Rubin, James Alvarez, Nancy Dupree, John Dixon, Tom Gregg, Patricia Ferrari, Kelly Moore.
For support and understanding at
especially: Kate White, Abby Greene, Ann Kwong, John Lanuza, Micah Rubin, Heather Pfaff, Miriam Friedman, Micaela Walker, Maggie Hong, Rebecca Hessel.
For maintaining privacy: Catherine Mathis, Diane McNulty, and Vanessa Palo.
For friendship, empathy, and holidays: Eric and Sylvan Wold.
For support, guidance, confidence: Jonathan and Katie Moore, Chloe Breyer, Marcello Picone.
For happy memories: Vincent Manoriti, Denise Morgan, Julian Borger, Kathleen Reen, Ivan Obregon, Greg Scholl, Lisa Ferrari, Kannan Sundaram, Jay Solomon, Don Nay, Dan Morrison, Paul Haven, Victoria Burnett, Tomas Munita, Bob Nickelsberg, Celia Dugger, Barry Bearak, Shelley Thakral, Anthony Loyd, Gary Bass, Stacy Sullivan, Emma Daly, Laura Pitter, Kit Roane, Katya Jestin, Joel Brand, Mike O’Connor, Tracy Wilkinson, John Pomfret, Roger Cohen, Ben Ward, Mark Dennis, Fred Abrahams, Leigh Cheng, John Bastian, Pete Brandt, Al Erickson, Matt Borger, Rod Peterson, Damon Struyk, Jim Williamson, Bob Perkins, Eric Mabley, Ian Marsh, Steve Cote, Jim Webb, Chris Charters, Peter Boisvert, Jay, Joe, and Doris Brenchick, Rocky and Martha Manoriti, John Atwood, Ed Quinn, and many others in Fryeburg.
For sustenance and support from friends, including: the Moss family, the Chivers family, the Bissell family, Andrea Elliott, Salman Ahmed, Chuck Sudetic, Cindy Searight, Renannah Weinstein, Josh Brown, Claire Mysko, Judson Wright, Madeleine Arthurs, Adivije Sheji, Arthur Belebeau, Juliette Merck, Natalie Hawwa, John Lin, Tamara Schlesinger, Jamal Rayyis, Neal Lesh, Erinn Bucklan, Jim Ledbetter, Erik Swain, Noah Green, Frances Northcutt, Amy Waldman, Megan Re, Sarah Smith, Elliot Thomson, Mariane Pearl, Kati Marton, Nic Robertson, George Packer, Leon Wieseltier, Peter Bergen, Somini Sengupta, Elizabeth Rubin, Jonathan Landay, Faye Bowers, Mary Anne Schwalbe, Sandra Cook, P. J. Anthony, Hari Kumar, Chuni Lal, Pan Singh.
For prayers: Marie Chisholm, Maryann Zocco, Fabienne LeRoux, Father Renald Labarre, Monika Stedul, Ben Borger, Helen D’Elia, and many others.
For listening: Barbara, Roberta, Jan, Lynne.
For supporting David’s research: Aryeh Neier, Patricia L. Rosenfield, and Laura Silber. This book was made possible in part by grants from the Open Society Foundations and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors.
For making this book a reality: Sarah Chalfant, Clare Ferraro, Wendy Wolf, Carolyn Coleburn, Linda Cowen, Sonya Cheuse, Risa Chubinsky, Nancy Resnick, Jeffrey Ward, Emily Votruba, Margaret Riggs, Meredith Burks, Carolyn Freeman, Tracy Breton, Kate Toth.
For courage and bravery: Sultan Munadi, Daniel Pearl, Piotr Stanczak, Asad Mangal, Jere Van Dyk, Sean Langan, Stephen Farrell, John Solecki, Alan Johnston, Roxana Saberi, Maziar Bahari, Amanda Lindhout, Nigel Brennan, Laura Ling, Euna Lee, and all journalists who remain in captivity.
FOR EVERYTHING: our parents Carol, Harvey, Mary Jane, James, Andrea, and George; our siblings Lee, Laura, Erik, Karen, Jason, Joel, Daniel, Christie, Chris, Howard, Christina, and all of our family.
PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS, ORGANIZATIONS, AND PLACES—AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN
Taliban commander who invites David to interview and kidnaps him
Guard who allows access to newspapers and radio; nephew of Akhundzada
Taliban commander who serves as Abu Tayyeb’s “intelligence chief”
Afghan driver kidnapped with David
Son of Jalaluddin Haqqani who provides houses and cash during kidnapping
Heavyset guard who leads prayers
Patriarch of the Haqqani family and famed anti-Soviet fighter who is supported by the CIA in the 1980s and who joins the Taliban in the 1990s
Guard who speaks broken English; son of Akhundzada
Leader of Taliban movement. Since 2001, he is believed to have been based in the Pakistani city of Quetta. Said to now lead a more moderate Taliban faction known as the Quetta Shura.
Taliban fighter who carries out kidnapping and later serves as guard
Taliban commander whose house serves as a prison
Son of Jalaluddin Haqqani who succeeded his elderly father as commander of the Haqqani network
Chief guard, younger brother of Abu Tayyeb
Afghan journalist kidnapped with David
Federally Administered Tribal Areas:
Mountainous region in northwestern Pakistan—also known as the tribal areas—that is a Taliban and Al Qaeda stronghold
Province in southern Afghanistan—also known as “Little America”—that was the focus of the author’s original book project
North and South Waziristan:
Regions inside the tribal areas where the author was held captive
Pakistani-government-funded tribal militia charged with policing the tribal areas
Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani military’s top intelligence agency.
PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS AND ORGANIZATIONS—NEW YORK
Assistant general counsel for
The New York Times