After being held captive for five days in Syria, NBC's Richard Engel and his team recount being ambushed, blindfolded and traumatized before being freed at a checkpoint.
December 18, 2012

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NBC’s Richard Engel and members of his production crew were freed from kidnappers Monday—five days after being abducted by an unknown group, NBC News confirmed. Engel, 39, disappeared on Thursday shortly after crossing into Syria from Turkey, and the network had been unable to contact him until Monday. The network said no group had claimed responsibility yet, and it was never contacted with any ransom demands or had any contact with Engel and the crew while they were missing. Engel said that after being abducted, he and his crew were transported blindfolded to an unknown location, and they were freed Monday when the truck they were in was stopped at a checkpoint manned by a Syrian rebel group.


“It is good to be here,” Engel said during a live appearance on TODAY from Turkey. “I’m very happy that we’re able to do this live shot this morning.”

Engel said that they were traveling with Syrian rebels when a group of about 15 gunmen “jumped out the trees and bushes” and captured them.

He said the gunmen executed one of the rebels “on the spot,” and later during their captivity they were subjected to mock executions while blindfolded and bound.

"We weren't physically beaten or tortured. It was a lot of psychological torture, threats of being killed," Engel said.

"They made us choose which one of us would be shot first and when we refused there were mock shootings. They pretended to shoot Ghazi [Balkiz, an NBC producer] several times,” Engel said.

A horrific experience, but wonderful news that everyone is free.

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