A How-To For Kidnapping Victims

The images have become too familiar: the haggard faces, the orange jumpsuits, the manacles.

The risk of kidnap in areas such as Iraq is so high that the U.S. military commissioned a training video to be shown to U.S. soldiers. The tape, obtained by CBS News, covers everything from the moment of capture through what could be months of isolation and possible endings. Death is never mentioned.

CBS News correspondent Shelia MacVicar watched the tape with one former hostage, British journalist Phil Sands, who was kidnapped in Baghdad the day after Christmas.

To Sands, the kidnap scene was all too familiar.

"When the boot lid closes, the trunk lid closes, that was … there's a period of calm when I was alone and that's when I felt really very terrified and I could feel myself panicking," Sands says. "I thought of my family, and I felt terrible about the fact that they would be watching me on television dressed in the orange jumpsuit.

"From the very start, I assumed I'd be killed."

The military video is not classified, but CBS is not broadcasting parts of the video that suggest techniques to help hostages better survive their ordeal. One piece of advice the U.S. military is repeating publicly — what to do if, like the three hostages found on Thursday, you are rescued by soldiers.

"Armed release is the most dangerous time," says the tape. "Do not attempt to help your rescuers. Lie on the ground with your hands visible."

Sands is one of the lucky few to survive both a hostage-taking and a rescue.

"Two American soldiers burst into the room with their rifles up," he says of his rescue. "I said 'I'm a British journalist and I was kidnapped.'"

MacVicar asks what the soldier said.

"What the …." Sands says. "I think he was completely surprised to see me."

Sands was rescued by accident; luck ended his kidnapping ordeal after a week. The families of journalist Jill Carroll, at least two other foreigners, and countless Iraqis are still waiting.

  • Gina Pace

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