ABC Reporter Threatened With Beheading In Cairo
A group of angry Egyptian men carjacked an ABC News crew and threatened to behead them today in the latest and most menacing attack on foreign reporters trying to cover the anti-government uprising.
Producer Brian Hartman, cameraman Akram Abi-hanna and two other ABC News employees were surrounded on a crowded road that leads from Cairo’s airport to the city’s downtown area.
While ABC News and other press agencies had been taking precautions to avoid volatile situations, the road to the airport had been a secure route until today. One of their two vehicles was carrying cameras and transmission equipment strapped to the roof, indicating they were foreign journalists.
Hartman says it was only through the appeal of Abi-hanna, who is Lebanese and a veteran ABC cameraman, that they were saved from being killed or severely beaten.
“We thought we were goners,” Hartman said later. “We absolutely thought we were doomed.”
Word of their harrowing ordeal came in a Twitter message from Hartman that stated, “Just escaped after being carjacked at a checkpoint and driven to a compound where men surrounded the car and threatened to behead us.”
“The men released us only after our camera man appealed to the generous spirit of the Egyptian people, hugging and kissing an elder,” he added in a subsequent tweet.
Minutes after receiving news that Hartman had been safely released, ABC News anchor Christiane Amanpour and her team were surrounded and interrogated by a threatening crowd in Cairo.
The alarm was sent back to ABC News headquarters in Cairo in a series of quick comments during a phone call. “We’re in trouble on the bridge,” was all that was initially said. The bridge is on the same road where Hartman and Abi-hanna were carjacked.
Moments later, the ABC News staffer said, “They’re surrounding us.”
Then cryptically, “We have to go.”
Amanpour apparently made it out safely. However, it seems to be only a matter of time now before some reporter ends up dead.