Former hostage recalls Taliban “morality”

Dilip Joseph talks to CBS News correspondent Chip Reid.
Dilip Joseph talks to CBS News correspondent Chip Reid.

Being held by the Taliban isn’t a tale many survive to tell.

Now two years after his rescue, an American doctor is opening up about the four days he spent with his captors, reports CBS News correspondent Chip Reid.

Joseph made 10 trips to Afghanistan beginning in 2008. As the medical director of Morning Star Development, a non-profit group that trains health care workers in Afghanistan, he spent much of his time in rural villages.

He was well aware of the danger from the Taliban but managed to avoid any direct contact, until his last, horrifying trip.

“There was one from the back, one gunman from the back, and two advancing from directly in front,” Joseph recalled. “We were surrounded, right away.”

After spending the morning of December 5, 2012 at a remote medical clinic, Joseph, his Afghan interpreter and an Afghan colleague were driving down a road, returning to their base in Kabul, when suddenly a man armed with an AK-47 stepped out from a hiding place.

They were driven to a nearby valley, then forced at gunpoint to hike high into the mountains where captors demanded a ransom of $300,000. Joseph knew that was impossible.

So he decided to take a chance and talk to his Taliban tormentors through his interpreter. Most responded with threats of violence. But a 19-year-old named Wallakah wanted to talk.

“After hearing my life story, he kind of opened up about his own life story,” Joseph explained. “He said, ‘all I’ve seen in my life is killing people. This is all that I’ve seen from my father.'”

The teen named Wallakah treated him with compassion, but at the same time, Joseph described him as a killing machine.

“It was hard to come to grips with that,” he said.

Another young fighter cried because he objected to the kidnapping.

Joseph saw another side to these two young men in particular, two men who are members of a Taliban group killing people and kidnapping for ransom.

“Glimmers of morality, and more than that — I saw a lot of hope where we don’t necessarily see hope,” Joseph said.

But hopelessness soon returned.

Joseph recounts the entire story in his recently published book, “Kidnapped by the Taliban” — including the dramatic ending.

“The first thing I heard was a gunshot,” he said. “Then I heard my name, ‘is Dilip Joseph here?’ and that hit me, ‘boy this is a rescue.'”

It was SEAL Team Six, Joseph said, the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden.

But in that mission, success was mixed with tragedy: 28-year-old Petty Officer 1st class Nicolas Checque, a highly decorated SEAL, was killed.

“He died to save my life,” he said. “It is hard to live with the idea that somebody died for my sake. The best that you can do is to honor them through your life, and that’s exactly what I want to do.”

Joseph said he will spend the rest of his life honoring Nicolas Checque by using his talent and his medical training to save lives.

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