Sunday, 28 Nov 2021

Bloke kidnapped by Somali pirates says they asked to ‘stay in touch by email’

A hostage who was held to ransom by Somali pirates for a petrifying six weeks has admitted the “food wasn’t that bad” and one of the gang “offered to stay in touch by email”.

Journalist Colin Freeman, 52, was kidnapped at gunpoint by his own bodyguards in Bosaso, a city on Somalia’s northern coast, in 2008 whilst investigating Somalia’s piracy problem.

Colin and his photographer, José Cendon, were bundled into a car and had hoods pulled over their heads throughout the ordeal, before they were transported to a cave they were kept in.

He told MyLondon: “It's a massive shock when it happens. You try and think ‘could I escape?'

“But the moment people have a gun pointed at you the instinct is just to do exactly what you're told.

“When we were moving through the mountain terrain they’d have a scout out front and a scout at the back.

“They looked like a military unit, and looked like they knew what they were doing.”

But despite the terrifying ordeal, Colin revealed how they were well fed and regularly ate goat meat with rice, goat meat with spaghetti, and roast goat.

Throughout the six weeks, he even built up a rapport with the kidnappers and one of the younger pirates exclaimed: “Ah! Britain, Britain, Thierry Henry, Arsenal!” when he found out they were British.

He went on to explain to Colin how his parents had been killed during one of Somalia’s civil wars, and how he’d been deported from Greece after trying to smuggle himself over the Mediterranean.

“It was strange, because it showed that some of them didn’t really know what they were doing, and that we’d leave as best mates,” Colin said.

Although a few of the pirates were kind to their captives, the hellish experience still had the 52-year-old journalist questioning if he was going to be executed.

During one proof-of-life phone call, one older pirate became aggressive and cocked his gun.

Colin said: “I thought ‘God knows what he’s going to do this time’.

“That was the moment I thought they were going to start torturing us and so forth, luckily they didn’t. The mere thought of something like that is bad enough.”

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Then one day, both Colin and José were told they were being released and his employers had used hostage negotiators.

They were marched up a mountain path and handed over to a group of intermediaries, and they were taken back to Bosaso and flown to safety.

You can buy a copy of Colin’s book about his experiencehere.

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