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Handsome Middle East Reporter

I Was Kidnapped in Syria,

Escaped During Gun Battle

12/18/2012 6:13 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

1218_engle_today

Richard Engel -- NBC News' chief foreign correspondent -- is alive and well ... but just barely ... after being held hostage by masked gunmen in Syria for several days.

Engel was reporting on the conflict in Syria earlier this month when he and his crew suddenly went missing. But after several days of radio silence ... the team surfaced ... and appeared on "Today" this morning to explain how they were abducted and exposed to psychological torture by their captors.

"We were driving in Syria ... as we were moving down the road, a group of gunmen literally jumped out of the trees and bushes on the side of the road," Engel explained.

Engel and his team -- who are now in Turkey -- continued, "There were probably 15 gunmen. They were wearing ski masks. They were heavily armed. They dragged us out of the car. They had a container truck waiting by the side of the road. They put us in that container truck. We were with some gunmen, some rebels who escorted us. They executed one of them on the spot. They took us to a series of safe houses and interrogation places and they kept us blindfolded and bound."

"We weren’t physically beaten or tortured. A lot of psychological torture, threats of being killed. They made us choose which one of us would be shot first, and when we refused, they were mock shooting, they pretended to shoot Gazi (cameraman) several times and when you’re blindfolded and then they fired the gun up in the air. It can be a very traumatic experience."

As for how they escaped, Engel explained ... they were being transported in a minivan, when their kidnappers came across a rebel checkpoint and a gun battle ensued. During the firefight, two of the kidnappers were killed.

"We climbed out of the vehicle and the rebels took us," Engel said ... "We spent the night with them.  We didn’t get much sleep and we came right here. And we still have the bandages in our pockets, the clothes we were wearing."

71 COMMENTS

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16.

Shaunie    

"Handsome"? Is this all you care about? I'd hate to see what the headline would be if you thought he wasn't.

489 days ago
17.

writenow    

So That's why we didn't see his reports. Thought he was on a well-deserved vacation.

489 days ago
18.

Rhubino    

I understand you TMZ, even if others don't. Good looking people are more important than homely people. (SARCASM)

489 days ago
19.

jasper121    

What an ordeal. Fortunately they are safe.

489 days ago
20.

jen    

What makes the difference that he is ugly or handsome.. a life is a life..

489 days ago
21.

Larry    

Richard Engel is exceptionally brave and a great reporter. But when you are constantly working in war zones and in the middle of onruly Arabic crowds, then at some point you are going to become some kind of victim. Like when Lara Logan got viciously assaulted.

American reporters in dangerous foreign countries seen to act like they have some kind of protective force field around them, but they don't. At least Richard Engel has one thing that helps him; he is fluent in Arabic, so he is less likely to be seen as an infidel.

489 days ago
22.

footos    

A handsome reporter... my god! He is a very fine journalist ,a real one not some E! News bull**** .

489 days ago
23.

BB not bb    

Oh boo hoo. I am sure he wasn't kidnapped because they thought he was handsome either. What a joke. IF you are hanging around with the rebels during a civil war, I guess you could expect to get taken in by some gunmen. They are probably sick of the skewed way the media is reporting the war. At least they let the crew go, unlike the many locked up in CIA prisons around the world, such as in Guantanamo Bay.


They are clearly taking sides by paling around with the rebels.

489 days ago
24.

Jody    

Was it a woman writing this, or was it one of the gay reporters who has a thing for this correspondent?

489 days ago
25.

pattycakes    

God bless our foreign correspondence journalists. These people risk their lives to bring truth to the civilized world. May God watch over you as you travel to unknown and strange places. I pray for your protection.

489 days ago
26.

peterfrady    

So where is the "Handsome Middle East Reporter..? All I see are 3 men lucky to be alive... Would they be the modern 3 wise men?

489 days ago
27.

joe    

1. wouldnt be surprised if this is bull**** for publicity.
2. everytime i come here and tmz has a stupid header like "handsome" i feel like i am on that **** site perezhilton.

489 days ago
28.

peterfrady    

This sounds suspect at best...

489 days ago
29.

peterfrady    

Escape in a few days that's like the 1969 movie...
Wake Me When the War Is Over

489 days ago
30.

Rene    

If they just ban the guns then all the violence will stop.

489 days ago
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