Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Richard Engel and two members of his crew, Ghazi Balkiz and John Kooistra, appeared on the "Today" show Tuesday morning to discuss their "traumatizing" experience as captives of what they believed were government militia loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. Looking unshaven and tired but otherwise remarkably composed, Engel still held bandages made from bed sheets during his captivity. Engel said he feared execution every time he and his crew were blindfolded and moved.
We weren’t physically beaten or tortured. It was 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 there were mock shootings. They pretended to shoot [NBC producer Balkiz] several times.
Engel also witnessed a firefight -- a confrontation between his captors and Syrian rebels manning a checkpoint -- that led to his freedom and the death of two of his captors.
"While we're obviously very happy, there are people who are still not at liberty to do this kind of thing. There are still hostages and there are still people who don't have their freedom inside Syria and we wish them well," Engel added.
Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide. UPI is a global operation with offices in Beirut, Hong Kong, London, Santiago, Seoul and Tokyo. Our headquarters is located in downtown Washington, DC, surrounded by major international policy-making governmental and non-governmental organizations.
UPI licenses content directly to print outlets, online media and institutions of all types. In addition, UPI's distribution partners provide our content to thousands of businesses, policy groups and academic institutions worldwide. Our audience consists of millions of decision-makers who depend on UPI's insightful and analytical stories to make better business or policy decisions.
In the year of our 107th anniversary, our company strives to continue being a leading and trusted source for news, analysis and insight for readers around the world.