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Australia’s Weeks says hope helped him survive Taliban captivity

Australia’s Weeks says hope helped him survive Taliban captivity”

An Australian teacher held captive with an American colleague by the Taliban for more than three years believes USA special forces tried and failed six times to free them.

"The time that I spent as a hostage with the Taliban has had a profound and unimaginable effect on me", he said.

The 50-year-old said during his torment he and Mr King's lives were at risk on a daily basis, with the pair held in very remote locations in tiny windowless cells, with long periods in the dark, with no access to proper medical treatment and little variety in food.

In exchange for Weeks and King, three Taliban prisoners were released by the Afghan government and flown to Qatar. Weeks was released last month as part of a prisoner exchange with the American Kevin King, ending an ordeal begun with their abduction in 2016 before the American University in Kabul, where they were working.

"It is hard for me to find words to express how completely this has changed me".

Despite at times fearing his death was imminent, Mr Weeks said he never lost hope and believed there had been six previous attempts to rescue him. "But, by the will of God, I am here, I am alive and I am safe - and I am free".

He recalled one such mission in April, when his guards told him they were under attack by militants of the rival Islamic State (IS) group. "There was a huge explosion at the front door".

He was pushed right into a tube whereas the Taliban guards hurried out " and there was lots of machine gunfire". "I think it was the Navy SEALs right outside our door".

Timothy Weeks said he believed United States special forces had tried six times to rescue him and an American captive, Kevin King, who was also released. "And that a number of times they missed us only by hours".

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Moments earlier Weeks had parted with his Taliban guards, even hugging some of them as they wished him well.

"Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who worked on the long and complex process that led to our final release", he said. "And some of them, I have great respect and love for nearly".

"Some of them were so compassionate and lovely, lovable people. And it really led me to think ... how did they end up like this?"

He added, "I know a lot of people do not admit that, but to me they were soldiers".

"And soldiers obey the commands of their commanders".

Timothy Weeks and Kevin King were abducted as they walked home from their classes at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul in early August 2016.

"Out of an enormous mud cloud got here six particular forces they usually walked in direction of us and considered one of them stepped in direction of me and he simply put his arm round me and he held me and he mentioned, 'Are you OK?' After which he walked me again to the Black Hawk".

"Then after nearly 1200 days, our ordeal ended as abruptly as it had began, and a Black Hawk helicopter lifted me from the parched soils of Afghanistan".



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