Twitter to the rescue

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: ...

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

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.

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.

Andrew Swift is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.