THE man pointing the rifle advanced slowly down a slope of stones. He kept his aim steady, holding the firearm on his hip, and paid no attention to David Rohde's entreaties.
"I'm lost, I'm lost, I'm sorry," yelled The Christian Science Monitor reporter, his hands in the air. This was a lie. Rohde knew exactly where he was, but he figured the truth - that he was an American journalist secretly searching for killing fields - would not be well received by his Bosnian Serb challenger. So he tried to look inoffensive, and made a move toward his rented Citroen.
It didn't work. The guard pulled the gun tight to his shoulder and sighted down the barrel. Rohde was deep inside territory he was not supposed to enter, carrying forged documents and suspicious maps, a camera filled with photos of a mass grave, and a borrowed coat on his back. A moment earlier he had been ready to photograph a human femur nearby. Now he did not know if he would live out the hour.
The guard kept coming. "Get away from the car!" he shouted, as Rohde tried to talk to him.
There was nothing the reporter could do. He was now in the hands of men who considered him an enemy. For the next 10 days he would be their prisoner, hidden from the world as his family and editors worked desperately to free him. At times he would be threatened with a 10-year jail term. At times he would find comradeship amid the danger.
Rohde had sneaked into this forbidden region in search of evidence that Bosnian Serb soldiers had massacred thousands of helpless Muslim civilians. Ironically, this mission, once admitted, did not seem to bother his captors. At least, it did not bother them nearly as much as the scenario they seemed to consider the stronger possibility: that this strange and foolish American was a spy.
He was questioned for hours on end in a room three strides long, Serbian xylophone music playing on a radio in the background. "Mr. David, these are the three important questions," his interrogator, Marko, said over and over again. "What is your rank? Who is your commander in the CIA? And what is your mission?"
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