Anorak News | Head In The Sands

Head In The Sands

by | 16th, January 2006

‘IF you went missing from work, would anyone notice? If you popped out for a cigarette and never returned, would your colleagues wonder what had happened to you?

We ask in light of the Times’s news that British reporter Phil Sands has been rescued by US soldiers in a routine raid on a farmhouse in Baghdad.

Sands had not been reported as missing. His family had not appeared in the media begging the hostages to release their son. A candlelit vigil had not been organised.

Sands was kidnapped on Boxing Day on his way to interview academics in the Iraqi capital. The car he was travelling in was forced to stop. A group of armed men pulled him from the vehicle and bungled him into the boot of another car. He was blindfolded. He was handcuffed. He was videotaped.

Problem was, no-one knew he had gone. It’s all very well kidnapping someone to make a political point, to exact revenge, to extort money, or just for the kick of it, if the world at large knows about it. But we didn’t. No-one realised Sands was missing.

Understandable, then, that Captain Eric Clarke, a US military spokesman, should describe Sand’s rescue on New Year’s Eve as “frankly amazing”.

Now back at his parent’s home in Dorset, Sand’s relives his ordeal: “From the moment I was taken hostage, I was certain I would be killed. A strange calmness fell over me. I thought, ‘What is the point in panicking? I am dead’.”

And it did look like he was to be murdered. He says that he was once led to a deep pit he feared was to be his grave. His captors threatened to shoot him. The Times says that his rescuers found a sword and an orange boiler suit at the scene, like those worn by other murdered hostages.

It appears that Sands had a lucky escape. And so too his parents, who, as the freed hostage says, were spared the anguish of not knowing if they would ever see their boy again.

And therein lies the rub. While Sands considers how important he is to the Dubai-based newspaper Emirates Today, we wonder what would happen if the kidnappers were denied the oxygen of publicity? Would the victims, their friends and family worry and agonise less?

As Philip Bigley said after his brother Ken Bigley was sadistically murdered: “The horror of these final days will haunt us for ever.”

Does the media create more victims..?’

Posted: 16th, January 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink