- By Andrew SwiftAndrew Swift is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.
A Japanese journalist held hostage in Afghanistan fooled his abductors with an unlikely source: Twitter.
Kosuke Tsuneoka’s captors asked him last Friday to show them how to use their new Nokia mobile phones, and after activating the devices Tsuneoka demonstrated how to access the Internet. After showing them Al Jazeera’s website, Tsuneoka made his move:
Then I told them there is a thing called ‘Twitter’. They asked me to show them what it was, so I sent Twitter messages with the phone in front of them. Because nobody understood English, it was no problem.
Tsuneoka tweeted two messages: “i am still alive, but in jail.” He then followed up with his location: “here is archi in kunduz. in the jail of commander lativ.” He was released the following day, though he suspects it was as a result of his captors’ failure to secure a ransom payment.
Tsuneoka further noted that he was well treated in captivity, even given three meals a day, but that his captors were “dreadfully uneducated” and “even their knowledge of Islamic teaching was very poor.”
Tsuneoka claims he was held by fighters loyal to Hizb-i-Islami commander Guldbuddin Hekmatyar — and not Taliban fighters, which the Afghan government and some media organizations reported.
Hekmatyar, a veteran mujahedeen commander, earned his name during the campaign against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Hizb-i-Islami is believed to be the second largest insurgent group in Afghanistan.
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.| Passport |