A father of one of Chiara’s friends was released from captivity after 15 days being held by the Taliban. Daniele Mastrogiacomo, a reporter for La Repubblica was kidnapped by extremist groups. He was forced to watch his captors decapitate his driver and wipe the sword on the headless body. Italy last week swapped five imprisoned Taliban fighters for the reporter. The International Herald Tribune reported on its website that “One of the prisoners, Ustad Yasir, who was identified as a Taliban spokesman said he would return immediately to war, and was ‘grabbing two rifles to begin jihad again to hunt down invaders and fight nonbelievers’ according to a statement attributed to him on the Internet.”
While the news that his government bargained to free the reporter should be encouraging to some journalists, the news that the going rate for a reporter is 5 jailed Taliban may just be slightly more encouraging to rebel fighters.
It’s a tough call. I support the government protecting the fifth estate, and side with that other formerly kidnapped Italian reporter, Giuliana Sgrena when she deflected criticism of the Italian governments decision to bargain with the terrorists onto the elephant in the room: the wars themselves. Referring to the trading of hostages and prisoners she said, “If there is no war, there will be no hostages.”
That’s sound theory. For now in my house we’ll savour the relief of knowing that Daniele is back home in Rome, and keep an eye on the reporter-kidnapping-prisoner-swap index.