We are so excited that Serial is back! Here we go for episode 3!
Bowe got in contact with a friend through a message; Josh didn’t want to but they thought a friend would be best. They scripted his video message, and it turned out cheesy, but Bowe never heard the message. In his first year of captivity, he attempted to escape at the beginning and the end. Bowe shared that the dirtier and more awful you were, the faster you were forgotten, and if you asked for things, you were less likely to get them. Eventually, the military had to give up on serious efforts to find him; Bowe was locked up alone.
On the outside, everyone thought Bowe was an asshole, or at least, that's how Mark felt, until he got involved in the intel world. Reports said Bowe turned to Islam, and joined the Taliban but those turned out to be false rumors. When Bowe talks his time with the Taliban, he doesn’t sound like a traitor.
Bowe did escape twice but not nearly long enough to get anywhere, describing the experiences. Once, he made it onto a roof, but they caught him. An old woman came out during all the action, and tried to clean Bowe off, but the Taliban pushed her aside. The aftermath of his escape attempt was severe; he described in detail the completely inhumane treatment he received. Eventually, he was sick with diarrhea, which lasted roughly three and a half years.
Bowe later described to Mark the strange questions the Taliban would ask. They weren't the normal type, but more like general curiosities they had regarding alcohol, drugs and President Obama. They were easily weirded-out by general chat and believed that that information Bowe gave was untrustworthy because of his casual tone.
Bowe was used more for making videos rather than intel gathering. Too many videos ended up being poor quality though, because it could have given their location away. Bowe looked strange in the videos, wearing sunglasses to add a level of cool. In the videos, he was forced to lie about how nicely he was being treated, but based on earlier descriptions, we know that he was treated terribly. The Taliban used the videos to call the US Government liars.
The army said Bowe didn’t abide by the code of conduct. For example, men from Bowe's platoon said that if there’s a gun to your head you should get shot. The military leaders don’t really uphold that code to that level. The videos show that he is alive which helps them. Bowe describes how he was captured in the first video but it wasn’t the truth. Bowe claims that he used that lie as an intentional way to show that what he says in those videos was lies. He cooperated enough to not get shot but not completely.
The Taliban shared that they hated keeping Bowe because it was high pressure and stressful job even though it was a high honored job. They had discussions about things to do to mess with Bowe or just get rid of him. They even thought about sending fake intel that Osama Bin Laden was there to get a raid and rid themselves of Bowe. They made Bowe watch beheading videos to freak him out, but he did realize that it could happen at any time.
Bowe spent a lot of energy remembering every detail he could. When he couldn’t see, he listened. Bowe had not had training for anything he was experiencing but he used trial and error. Bowe made friends with a dog in one place he was kept and that dog hated most people. He knew he had to befriend it if he had any hopes of an escape. He planned his next escape attempt over months because every attempt he’d made didn’t get him far.
The best option was a prison he was held in, in the mountains. He’d been practicing and tried to get away after prep. He used everything he had, even what held him captive to try and get away.
There hasn’t been a successful escape since Vietnam and it’s not suggested unless you have a lot of assurance that you can get away. This moment was the one that proved to Sarah that he wasn’t with the Taliban because even though the odds were against him, he attempted to get away.
This moment was the best of his five years being held captive. He tried to avoid a tent and he fell down a cliff. He found water after his fall which left him badly injured. He realized this when he tried to move for nearby water. He hid in a tree as his only form of shelter but it wasn't enough. Unfortunately, he was recaptured after 9 days of freedom.
Join us this Thursday for Episode 4!