NATO commandos free NYT reporter

NATO commandos have freed Stephen Farrell, the New York Times reporter who was kidnapped in Afghanistan’s northern province of Kunduz last week while covering the airstrike on two hijacked fuel tankers. Reuters reports:

New York Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty confirmed early on Wednesday that Farrell had been released and Sultan [Farrell’s driver] killed.

Abdul Waheed Omarkheil, district chief of Char Dara district in Kunduz province, site of last Friday’s air strike, said Farrell had been released in a pre-dawn raid by NATO troops. An Afghan woman was killed during the raid in the house where the two men were being held, he added.

Mohammad Nabi, a resident of the district, said Taliban fighters with the two captives had stayed at his house that night after demanding shelter. He said NATO forces arrived by helicopter and killed his sister-in-law during their raid.

The New York Times attempted to suppress reporting of Farrell’s kidnapping. Local Afghan newspapers, as well as DPA, the German wire service, reported on the kidnapping, but did not name Farrell. Farrell’s kidnapping was reported here at Threat Matrix.

Last weekend The New York Times requested the report of Farrell’s kidnapping be removed from Threat Matrix. We did not honor the request.

The New York Times was able to successfully suppress media reports of reporter David Rohde’s kidnapping for more than seven months. The newspaper was even successful in getting Wikipedia to suppress the reports of Rohde’s kidnapping.

The Times has not afforded the same media blackout to Coalition soldiers, Afghan nationals, NGO workers, and contractors kidnapped in Iraq and Afghanistan. For instance, in January 2008, the newspaper reported on the kidnapping of Sidney Misal, a female aid worker for the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation, the same day she was captured.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • kbed says:

    Bill, I want to thank you for NOT removing the information from your website. I am glad that this guy has been freed through the courage of NATO military. But I am sick and tired of the NYT’s hypocrisy in this arena. Maybe, just maybe, your stand will finally make them look in the mirror at their double-standards and utter lack of concern for the safety of anyone buy their own personnel.

  • Render says:

    Tom Ricks is also a hypocrite and a liar. Note the very last sentence in this article of his from 2006…
    “…the kidnapping of Shiite Deputy Health Minister Ammar al-Saffar added to sectarian friction in the last 24 hours.”
    So was Ammar al-Saffar put at more risk by Ricks writing about his kidnapping within 24 hours after it happened?
    That whole FP/CNAS crew is suspect in my book. Just for sharing a masthead with Steven Walt. And that includes Andrew Exum.
    I still don’t understand why anybody in uniform would talk to people like Ricks. I probably never will.

  • Lisan says:

    Dear Bill–
    I’m with Kbed–very proud and thankful you stuck by your story, and the reasons you published it in the first place.

  • Peter says:

    If you go to Stephen Farrell’s Wikipedia page, you’ll see that they were able to suppress news of the kidnapping there, too.

  • Neo says:

    Actually, I have mixed feelings about running the story. News outlets have fallen into a double standard where they will protect their own, but won’t extend the same courtesy to others in the same predicament. Rubbing their noses in it, by running the story might make a larger point, but that comes at the cost. The current hostage doesn’t benefit from a courtesy we feel should be extended to everyone as general practice.
    This is hardly a new issue. Terrorists have been taking hostages for 50 years now. Getting a big media exploitation frequently is “the central feature”

  • Mr T says:

    The real problem with hostages is that their kidnappers receive millions of dollars which they use to buy weapons and fund other terror and kidnappings. Those weapons are then used to kill many other people. Bottom line, we should not give kidnappers anything that can be used to harm others. The poor guy that got kidnapped knew the risk when he went into the danger zone. While I do have empathy, I have more empathy for the others that will die as a result of the ransom being paid. We save a dozen or so and hundreds of others die. Where is the justice in that? When kidnappers realize that the hostage won’t get them anything , they will stop taking them and everyone will be safer.

  • Render says:

    The enemy takes “hostages” for ransom or later beheading or both.
    We take POW’s, who are treated better then most common American criminals and all too often released to rejoin their comrades, even though the war is not yet over.
    The New York Times seems to think that it and its employees are somehow neutral while the nation it resides in, whose army protects it, is at war.
    The New York Times, Washington Post, and AP should be shut down, their files confiscated. Their journalist employees, stringers, editors and management held without bail pending a top to bottom investigation by the FBI.
    Multiple cases of illegal possession of classified information (well documented in their own pages). Multiple cases of direct and indirect contact with the enemy (again, well documented within their own articles).


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