CB: "There was no option of doing anything to stay alive...It was, you die. That was it."

Length: 10:11

LARGE (118.5 MB) ----- SMALL (12.7 MB)

An edited version of the piece about Roy Hallums that aired on AC360 last night, followed by Rick Sanchez asking Michael to talk more about what happened on Haifa Street.

RICK SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

So often, we have heard stories of Americans that are kidnapped in Iraq. And some of those stories, they ended up with what are, well, gruesome executions. But this one ended with a daring rescue.

The man that you're about to meet was an American contractor. He was building messhalls and he was providing food for our military. He was captured. His kidnappers demanded $12 million. And now he's telling the story of what that was like, how he got out.

Then there's this fellow, our own Michael Ware. He sat down with him. And not only did he sit down with him as a journalist, but what Michael was able to do is, he actually was able to compare notes, because this very same thing happened to Michael.


MICHAEL WARE (voice-over): Three months after Roy Hallums disappeared in Baghdad in 2004, this proof of life video appeared.

ROY HALLUMS: My name is Roy Hallums. I'm an American national. Please help me.

WARE: Before it was over, Hallums would be held nearly a full year by Iraqi insurgents -- 311 days -- something I know a little about having been taken by al Qaeda myself.

(on camera): When I was grabbed by al Qaeda and pulled from my car, I mean, they were just going to cut my head off. But it was like it was someone else. At that moment, it felt to me like it was happening to someone else even though I was completely or even hyper-aware of the moment.

HALLUMS: You're right. It's like it's almost third person, that I can sit there and tell the story. I can answer any question anybody has. It doesn't bother me, and what's for lunch?

WARE (voice-over): This is Hallums at the end of his ordeal. He lost 40 pounds but says he never lost hope. For most of the time, his kidnappers kept him in a secret and cramped underground cell, the entrance sealed shut.

HALLUMS: You could hear them troweling this concrete over the door, and then they would shove a freezer over the top of that to hide where the door was. You're buried in there, and if they decide, well, it's just too dangerous to go back to the house and they never come back, then you're in your tomb.

WARE (on camera): Dead men tell no tales.

(voice-over): Eight months after his proof of life video had appeared, U.S. Special Forces received a crucial tip on his whereabouts. Worried Hallums would be moved, they instantly launched a daylight rescue.

HALLUMS: I heard Special Forces pounding on this little door in the room where I was, and the guy jumps down in there and says, "Are you Roy?" They actually found where I was, you know, which was a miracle.

WARE: Two days after Roy Hallums was rescued, I joined a U.S. hostage team gathering information and I shot this video as they returned to the Iraqi farmhouse and Hallums' hellhole.

It gave me a sense of what may have awaited me or any other of the westerners kidnapped in Iraq. And now talking with Hallums, it's forcing me to deal with things I would rather forget.

My experience began here. I was grabbed in late 2004, not far from where you see this burning American Bradley Fighting Vehicle. This is Haifa Street in the center of Baghdad and al Qaeda had just taken over the neighborhood. Like Hallums, I was taken at the height of al Qaeda's campaign of their videotaped beheadings, like this one, the last images of contractor Nicholas Berg alive.

I actually videotaped my own capture, my camera catching one of my abductors pulling a pin on a grenade before they pulled me from the car.

Unlike Hallums, for me there was to be no imprisonment. This was al Qaeda, and I was going to die. They readied me immediately for beheading, to be filmed with my own camera. I was only saved by Iraqi insurgents I knew who resented al Qaeda's takeover.

(on camera): Your moment of liberation, brother.

(voice-over): Meeting Hallums, sharing our experiences flushed up in me a mix of emotions. I can't even bear the thought of being held for months on end like he was.

HALLUMS: You're laying there in this little hole in the dark. You're tied up, hands and feet, and every little noise, every bump is, is this it? Is this when they're going to do it?


SANCHEZ: Good God. Michael joins us now.

That's one hell of a story, man.

WARE: Oh, it's incredible. Can you imagine 10 months stuck in a hole?

Now, I'm -- apart from Roy Hallums, I'm the only Western civilian to have actually seen this hole. And I don't know if you could see in the video that the soldier shot off his video camera -- the soldiers are on their knees. They're not standing up. They're moving around on their knees.


WARE: And he was kept tied behind his back, feet, and masked that 10 months in that hole.

SANCHEZ: I'm wondering as I watch that, you took a picture of the guy who took you.

WARE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Or one of them.

SANCHEZ: What did he do with that live grenade? I'm not quite sure I understand. You say he pull -- we saw him pull the pin.

WARE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. On that film -- I filmed my whole kidnap. I kept the camera running the whole time.

SANCHEZ: You're nuts.

WARE: Well, it was good -- you know?

SANCHEZ: Yes. No, no, you're a courageous guy.

WARE: But I filmed the whole thing.

And at the end of it, al Qaeda went back and taped -- and deleted, basically, the clip. Their faces were on it.


WARE: But they missed those few frames. So, what you're seeing is one of the guys stepping out, pulling the pin on the grenade and throwing it.

SANCHEZ: That's the guy we saw in that picture.

WARE: Yeah. And he's the one who came to the back of the car, grabbed me, held the grenade to my head and pulled me out.

SANCHEZ: So, as long as you know there's a live grenade there and he's holding the pin with his thumb, you're not going to do anything.

WARE: No. And there's like 20 guys who have got AK's to my head. I have got .9-mils to my head. And it was actually while they were trying to figure out how to use my camera...

SANCHEZ: Oh, my goodness.

WARE: ... so, they could film my -- I was under the banner, the same as you saw Nicholas Berg.

SANCHEZ: Did you think you could get away at that moment?

WARE: Not a chance in living hell.

SANCHEZ: Really?

WARE: That wasn't even a consideration.

SANCHEZ: So, where did they take you?

WARE: They dragged me from the car, because, at that point, it's like al Qaeda had just taken over midtown Manhattan.

SANCHEZ: And they had just beheaded somebody.

WARE: They were right in the process of it.

And, so, they grabbed me, pulled me from the car. They took me round back to a safer place. They set up the banner.

And they're there getting ready, you know, like the dude's got the blade. The others are standing back. I'm just standing there making my peace. And...

SANCHEZ: You're thinking you're going to be dead?

WARE: There wasn't even a question. And they're like positioning me. All right, now, how do you get this thing to record? And that's when the Iraqis saved me.

SANCHEZ: Were you willing to do anything to live?

WARE: Well...


SANCHEZ: No, really, seriously? I'm serious. Because we see people who -- we get videos here at CNN that we will not put on the air because we know that these people have been coerced.

WARE: Under duress.

SANCHEZ: Correct.

WARE: And I have received a lot of those tapes, and I have been involved in retrieving a lot of hostages.

SANCHEZ: So, let me ask you point-blank, when you're in that situation, would you be willing to do anything to live?

WARE: Well, put it this way...

SANCHEZ: Take an oath to al Qaeda, take an oath to whatever.

WARE: That was not the first time I have been grabbed. But I'm telling you, I was grabbed by Zarqawi's al Qaeda, right...


WARE: ... at the height of their beheading campaign. I'm the only Western to have ever been grabbed by al Qaeda and lived to tell the tale.

There was no option of doing anything to stay alive, you know? I couldn't even offer to give them a kiss.

SANCHEZ: You were just riding the wave.

WARE: It was, you die. That was it. And as the Iraqis who saved me, when they said to the al Qaeda, you know, so you going to kill him? And they said, "well, you bring a Westerner in here and you think he's going to leave alive? No. We're going to butcher him now."

SANCHEZ: How did you finally get out?

WARE: Basically, al Qaeda took over central Baghdad. The nationalist insurgents -- because there were guys who were fighting, like, the American war of independence, you know, to fight the occupation, fighting for their country.


WARE: Then you've got the Islamic psychopaths. I knew those, like, nationalists, those patriots. They're the ones who took me in there and indeed while we're standing there, the guy, the guy who brought me in says to al Qaeda, you know, "you're gonna kill him?" "Yes, you know, we're going to kill him." And they go, "well, you know that dishonors me. You know who I am." And he goes, "yes, we know who you are but we're going to kill him."

He goes, "oh, right. So, you know, bugger me, huh?" And he goes, "you know who I work for. Who do you think told me to bring in him here? Should we get him on the phone?" The big, big guy.

SANCHEZ: So you were using their own tribalism against them?

WARE: They were. They were. Basically what it came down to was, there was foreign al Qaeda and Iraqi al Qaeda.

SANCHEZ: Exactly.

WARE: And the Iraqi al Qaeda said, "is killing this guy worth having to go to turf war with these blokes?" That's where it came down to. And it's because the Iraqi fighters had known me for so long that they were prepared to do that. They said, "you can kill him, but if you kill him, we're at war, sunshine."

SANCHEZ: It's an amazing story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

WARE: Oh, yeah, it's great to relive it just for the purposes of milking it on television years later. Yeah, it does wonders for me.

SANCHEZ: It's a good thing we have you, Michael. Thank you.

WARE: Oh, yeah.

SANCHEZ: We have a great story tonight about the power of social media. Stick around. You're going to get a kick out of this thing.

WARE: Yeah?