2014-07-28
Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
Held hostage - Nigel Brennan reflects on his time in Somalia

ABC Online
Monday, February 18, 2013

Photojournalist Nigel Brennan reflects on his time held hostage in Somalia as Sydney man Warren Rodwell continues to be detained by terrorist group Harakatul Al-Islamiyyah in the Philippines.

Former soldier and Sydney man Warren Rodwell has spent more than a year detained in the Philippines by the terrorist organisation Al Harakatul Al-Islamiyyah.

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Nigel Brennan Nigel Brennan speaks to Richard Glover about his experience being held hostage in Somalia.


In a recent proof-of-life video he said he has no faith that the militants holding him will release him or that the Australian government will secure his safe passage home.

He also said he has no communication with his captors or with the outside world.

"I understand there are some negotiations. I do not get any updated information," he said.

"The people around me normally don't speak English. I understand something is happening but I don't know when.... I personally hold no hope at all for being released... I do not trust anyone."

The foreign minister Bob Carr says the government is working with the Philippine authorities to secure Rodwell's release but has a policy of not paying kidnappers.

Nigel Brennan has been through all of this himself. In 2008 he was kidnapped in Somalia while on assignment as a photojournalist. He was held hostage for 462 days.

Nigel Brennan joined Richard Glover in the studio to share his experience.

After hearing Rodwell's message he said he too went through periods where he had no hope for survival.

"At the start of my ordeal I was incredibly negative and thought I was going to die," he said.

At the moment Nigel was taken he had no concept of what it meant.

"When I turned around and I saw that AK-47 inches from my head right next to the window was terrifying but I think my brain shut down automatically. I describe it as a feeling of cotton wool in my mind," he said.

After attempting to escape and being recaptured Nigel was sure he was about to die. The woman he was with was dragged away. Then he heard something terrifying.

"I heard a single gunshot and I thought she's just been executed and I am next," he said.

For the next 11 months Nigel was shackled and isolated. He spent his time going over his past, playing memory games, re-reading the same books over and over again and cleaning his small cockroach infested room.

Nigel says the experience came with its own blessings.

"Trauma is something you should embrace because it defines who you are later in life," he said.

It's been three years since his release and he doesn't look back with self pity.

"I came home and was so high on adrenalin and was so happy to be alive," he said.

"I looked at myself as a survivor and not as a victim."

So what advice would Nigel Brennan give Warren Rodwell - still languishing alone, not knowing his fate?

"One thing I would say to Warren is have a routine," he said.

"(Don't) give up hope... and remain positive."

You can hear Richard Glover's full interview with Nigel Brennan here. Nigel has written a book about his time in Somalia - The Price of Life.





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