British film-maker feared he would never get out alive

British film-maker feared he would never get out alive

53-year-old Qureshi was kidnapped while researching a film for Channel 4 television on the Islamist militants and tribal groups who control much of the area and are bitterly hostile to outsiders, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

Qureshi has told of his ordeal at the hands of the armed gang who shot one of their prisoners and subjected another to a mock execution during his months of captivity.
He was kept in isolation in a 6ft by 6ft cell, barely able to move, and subjected to physical and mental torture.

All the time, he feared he would never be freed.
In the end, the intervention of family members in Pakistan managed to secure his release.

Qureshi, released earlier this month after being held in the remote region of North Waziristan, revealed how he often thought he would die.

On one occasion, a guard lashed out at him after his captors heard him squabbling with another hostage.

"It was unbearably painful," he said.
On another day, he said "a gun was pointed at my feet and I was told my toes would be shot away one by one."

With Qureshi was his driver, Rustam Khan, and two former Pakistani intelligence officers, Sqd Ldr Khalid Khawaja and Col Sultan Ameer Tarar, who were acting as guides.

Both Khawaja and Tarar, also known as Col Iman, had worked with the mujahideen in their campaign against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan during the 1980s and had links with the Taliban, the report said.

Qureshi and his team were captured on March 26 by the Asian Tigers, a little known militant faction, thought to be a front for Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a violent group that has developed strong ties to the Taliban in recent years.

Describing the moment he was seized, Qureshi told how he was filming in front of his car when "all of a sudden there were bursts of gunfire."

"Masked men were all around our car. It all happened so quickly, I hardly had time to react.    A guy was pointing at me and signalling to get out. The doorlock was jammed so one of the men yanked it open and they pulled me out. I put my hands up, I could see Khalid on his knees," he said.

Blindfolded and handcuffed, the group was hustled into two cars and driven for hours to an isolated location in the Waziristan mountain range.

They were told by their kidnappers that they had crossed over into Afghanistan, but it has now emerged that this was not the case and the group had remained in Pakistan throughout their ordeal.

At one stage Tarar was dragged out of his cell, blindfolded and subjected to a mock execution.

Three weeks after the kidnapping, Khawaja was forced to appear in a video in which he claimed to have continued links to the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, and the CIA and to have betrayed extremists during the siege of the Red Mosque in Islamabad, where dozens of militants died in clashes with the Pakistani security forces in 2007.
Days after, his body was found in a ditch near the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan with a note warning other "American spies" they would meet the same fate.

Kidnappers had demanded USD 10 million and release of several Taliban prisoners in return for Qureshi's freedom, but it is not clear whether any of their demands were met.
News organisations did not report the kidnapping at the request of Channel 4 which feared any coverage might jeopardise negotiations to obtain the men's release.

Qureshi who studied at Bradford College before becoming a cameraman and film producer, had worked on Hollywood feature films before turning to documentaries.
He had made films about an attempt by Pakistani mountaineers to climb Everest - during which he nearly lost his life - and the kidnap and murder of the American reporter Daniel Pearl by islamist militants in Pakistan in 2002.

Since Qureshi's release there has been no word of Tarar, who was last seen pleading for his life on a video released in July.

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