Skip to comments.Afghanistan - US Afghan inmate says Taliban threaten to behead him
Posted on 02/28/2006 9:30:12 PM PST by HAL9000
KABUL - An American journalist inmate at an Afghan jail block seized by prisoners said Taliban militants held there threatened on Tuesday to behead him and told him he would die if an attempt were made to end the siege by force.
Emmy award-winning documentary maker Edward Caraballo, 44, from New York, was one of three Americans jailed in 2004 after being convicted of running a private jail and illegally detaining and torturing men in a freelance war on terror.
Speaking by mobile phone from Pul-i-Charkhi jail on the outskirts of Kabul, Caraballo told Reuters he was barricaded in his room in block one of the prison, parts of which were overrun by inmates on Saturday night.
He said some prisoners in the block were protecting him but others, who said they were Taliban militants, had threatened to kill him if their demands were not met.
"Im not letting anyone in, and I am not going out," said Caraballo who sounded frightened.
"I have told the U.S. embassy that they want to speak to the ambassador and President Karzai on the phone to tell them their demands. I was told that if they dont do that and they dont want to talk to these people, then they will cut my head off."
"Right after I spoke to the embassy, four of them walked into my room and very calmly, very matter-of-factly, said this is not anything personal against you, but we have grievances that we want to get across to somebody in charge."
The men who threatened him said they were Taliban, not al Qaeda militants, he said. They had said authorities should not attempt to storm the jail.
"They said there would be a lot of bloodshed and I would be one of the first to go," he said.
Caraballo said his two-year sentence expired in four months and all he wanted to do was to return home and see his daughter.
"My recommendation to the U.S. government and Afghan police force is please, please, do not storm at this time; just keep the negotiations going and please do not attack us," he said.
Caraballo was contacted in the prison on a mobile phone number that a diplomat confirmed belonged to the prisoner.
He said he had spoken to the U.S. embassy and asked for assistance, but had been told: "They cannot extract me, it is not their business, and its in the Afghans hands."
Caraballo said he had been nicked in the side by a bullet or a piece of shrapnel when police opened fire in the prison at the start of the siege, when he had been trying to run back to his cell. He said he was not badly hurt.
"Its a nick; its really nothing," he said. "It was not intentional. The police have been very good in trying to protect me -- it was just friendly fire."
He said he was now feeling unwell had had been vomiting frequently and questioned whether his food had been poisoned.
Caraballo said that since the siege began he had been treading a thin line between being one of the protesting prisoners and "being a hostage, because the first thing they said was Get the American and get his phone."
He said there were about five different factions among the prisoners, one of which was trying to protect him.
Caraballo said one of the men who had threatened him had said their only demand was not to be prosecuted for the uprising because the police had started it and killed their comrades.
Four prisoners were killed in attempts to subdue the riot.
The two Americans jailed with Caraballo -- Former U.S. Green Beret Jonathan "Jack" Idema and another ex-serviceman, Brent Bennett -- are in the same prison but in a separate block, where they were not thought to be in danger.
The two, given 10-year terms at their trial, said then that Caraballo had been just a journalist filming their activities.
Asked to comment on Caraballos status, U.S. embassy spokesman Lou Fintor read a statement saying that in the absence of Privacy Act Waivers, U.S. law prohibited the embassy from providing specific information about Americans at Pul-i-Charkhi.
"We are aware of media reports but are not in a position to confirm anything at this time," it said.
"We are continuing to closely monitor the situation at Pul-i-Charkhi prison and are in regular contact with Afghan authorities. We would like to see the government of Afghanistan resolve this situation in a peaceful manner."
Mawlavi Mohammad Siddiqi, a cleric who was one of those held by Idemas vigilante group and is now acting as a mediator in the prison standoff, told reporters Idema was not in danger, but Caraballo was "not in a good place."
From what I've been able to find out, these guys deserve medals not prison.
Forgive me, but anybody with the website url "superpatriots.us" is an idiot.
> Forgive me, but anybody with the website url "superpatriots.us" is an idiot.
OK I'll bite. Why do you say that?
Idema was nailed and jailed for wire fraud in the late 80S or early 90S.