2014
06.06

Former SAS soldier Andy McNab, who spent six weeks as an Iraqi captive in the Gulf War, warns that Sgt Bowe Berghdal – whether hero or villain – now faces a nightmare

The Telegraph – 5 June 2014
By Andy McNab

Heroes don’t exist like they do in the films. Real-life events are totally different to what we expect. All the grainy footage of the Taliban handover of Sergeant Bowe Berghdal to US forces in Afghanistan shows is a deeply traumatised young man, struggling to hold on to reality.

He would have just been telling himself, is this really happening? Am I really being released? That is why, once airborne, he scribbled “SF” on a paper plate, asking the soldiers around him, over the drone of the helicopter engine, if they really were special forces. After so long as an enemy captive, it is impossible to grasp you are free.

I spent six weeks as an enemy captive after I was captured by the Iraqis in the Gulf War in 1991. This young man is 28, and has spent the past five years of his life in enemy hands. There will have been some horrendous times.

The first three weeks of my own incarceration were spent under physical interrogation, being whipped and burnt, and having my back teeth pulled out. I was kept in a purpose-built interrogation centre in Baghdad used by the secret police, but at the time I had no idea where I was.

After that, I was moved to Abu Ghraib jail. There, the torture wasn’t official, but Baghdad was getting bombed every night from dusk until dawn, and the guards would come and get their retribution.

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