Wrote about September 10, 2001; the day before. Wrote about what happened to the Islamic protagonists afterwards. Didn’t think of searching to find out what had happened to the eight foreign aid workers who had been held for trial for allegedly proselytizing Christianity in Afghanistan. Wondered if the events of September 11, 2001, made any difference. On November 15, 2001, they were freed, with one report stating that they were freed by the Taliban, through being abandoned in a field near Kabul. As reported, the reasons for their release seem to relate more to a failed hostage-taking attempt by retreating Taliban:
“I’m thankful they’re safe, and I’m pleased with our military for conducting this operation,” President Bush said at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Bush had rejected attempts by the Taliban to use the aid workers as bargaining chips. He said Red Cross and others “facilitated” the rescue.
The Americans, Dayna Curry, 30, and Heather Mercer, 24, are employees of a German-based Christian aid group. Along with four Germans and two Australians, they had been held since Aug. 3 on charges of trying to covert Muslims. That offense could carry the death penalty under the Taliban.
On Tuesday, the Taliban supreme court postponed the aid workers’ trial and moved them from their cells in Kabul. Taliban forces, retreating from the capital, took the workers with them.
Who were the others? From “Eight foreign aid workers released” (Agence France Presse via Dawn News, November 16, 2001):
And a different take on their rescue:
The aid workers — two Americans, two Australians and four Germans — were working for the German-based group Shelter Now when they were arrested in early August together with 16 Afghan colleagues…
The trial of the aid workers, however, had been interrupted after the airstrikes in Afghanistan began on Oct 7.
Foreign diplomats in Islamabad said the aid workers had been moved from their place of detention in Kabul before the Taliban abandoned the city on Tuesday [November 13, 2001]…
German Georg Taubmann, one of the freed aid workers, said he and his colleagues were taken to Ghazni by the Taliban as they withdrew from Kabul.
No sooner had they arrived then there was an anti-Taliban uprising in Ghazni by local Mujahideen commanders who stormed the prison, he said.
“They broke into the prison and just opened the doors,” Taubmann told reporters here. “We were actually afraid that the Taliban were coming and taking us to Kandahar. We were really scared.”
Taubmann said he and his fellow aid workers had been given a rousing reception by the people of Ghazni.
“We got out of the prison and into the city and people came out of their houses and they were hugging us all and clapping,” he said.
“They didn’t know there were foreigners in the prison. It was like a big celebration. I think it was one of the biggest days in my life.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helped facilitate their flight to freedom.
“We received a call from the local military commander in Ghazni informing us that he had rescued the aid workers and asking us if we could provide some assistance in terms of arranging transportation or contact with their governments,” said ICRC spokesman Bernard Barrett.
Another take from the same story:
The Pentagon said anti-Taliban fighters broke the two Americans, two Australians and four Germans out of a prison south of Kabul and US military helicopters flew them to Islamabad.
They were flown on Thursday morning to the Chaklala air base near Islamabad, where they were met by diplomats from their respective embassies.
But the Washington Post said the eight were handed over by the Taliban to an unidentified non-governmental group.
Two senior US defence department officials told the daily that the aid workers had been turned over peacefully by the Taliban to the NGO.
The paper, however, mentions a statement by Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi’s son on Wednesday at the country’s embassy in Vienna, saying he was confident the aid workers would be released soon.
Seif el-Islam Qadhafi said the group he heads, the Gadhafi Foundation for Charitable Organizations, had been in touch with the Taliban for two months in a bid to obtain the release of the aid workers.
The Washington Post said it was unclear whether Qadhafi’s group had anything to do with the release.