Capitol Hill’s Journalism team took a trip to Gallery Place Chinatown to visit this year’s Washington Ideas
Forum on September 30. They saw speakers, activists, and journalists from all across the United States, including Theo Padnos, a survivor of being kidnapped in Syria; Opal Tometi, a Co-Founder of #BlackLivesMatter; and Yale Professor Marc Brackett.
Kidnapped journalist shares his story
During the 11 o’clock hour, Theo Padnos shared his testimony of being kidnapped and tortured by the terrorist organization ISIS. Even though Padnos is familiar with the culture, he traveled to Turkey because he still wanted to learn more on the people and language. Theo and three men drove across the Turkish border to Benish, Syria, where Padnos interviewed them and where they soon uncovered themselves as associates of ISIS.
“Something you don’t want to happen is for them to pass you to another group,” Padnos said.
These men then beat Padnos, and forced him to have a trial with a judge where it was decided that Padnos must stay with his captors. Theo announced that his captors took him to a basement to interrogate him. Even after answering all their questions, his captors continued to beat him. Four others were kept hostage with Padnos.
“We can keep killing these people but more will come,” Theo said.
While these events were occurring, Padnos’ family members were contacting everyone they knew to get information on him. One of the other captives was a journalist at The Atlantic, so they reached out to the magazine. David Bradley, a co-founder at The Atlantic, helped to find Padnos and the other captives. While isn’t clear how Bradley rescued Padnos, Padnos was able to shortly after return to his family in the United States.
“He’s came up wiser, deeper and whole,” Theo’s mother said.