Page 32 - Foreign Service Journal - December 2012

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32
DECEMBER 2012
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Ann B. Sides was a Foreign Service consular ofcer from 1983 to 2011.
Her overseas assignments included Niamey, Dakar, Oran, Belgrade
(twice), Zagreb, Dublin, Sarajevo and Athens, where she was consul
general from 2004 to 2008.
G
ordon Jones is a lucky man. Now 68 and
retired from the Foreign Service, he was
kidnapped by the Uruguayan guerrilla orga-
nization known as the Tupamaros in 1970,
escaping in an astonishing feat of physical
agility and quick thinking.
Diplomats have long been targets of assassins with a grudge
against the government the diplomat represents. However, many
of the terrorist movements that proliferated in the late 1960s and
early 1970s had a more pragmatic motive. Tey abducted diplo-
mats of many nationalities to extort money or political conces-
sions from host governments.
Jones, then 27 and the father of newborn twins, was an
up-and-coming economic and commercial ofcer at the U.S.
embassy in Montevideo. On a chilly morning, July 31, 1970, he
and cultural attaché Nathan Rosenfeld were in a parking garage
beneath the apartment building where they both lived, prepar-
ing to share a ride to work. A snatch squad of masked urban
guerillas pounced on the two colleagues, stunning them with
blows to the back of the neck.
“Tey didn’t know either of us by sight, so they checked our
diplomatic ID cards. It was me they wanted. Tey left Nathan on
the garage foor, knocked me out—or so they thought—tied me
up and shoved me into the back of the car. Soon, by some prear-
rangement, we met a pickup truck and I was transferred to the
fatbed at the back of the truck. Tey rolled me in a blanket and
hog-tied me, hand to foot.”
One captor stayed in the back of the pickup with Jones, while
the other three got into the cab of the truck. Despite the blow
to his head, Jones never totally lost consciousness. Intensely
alert, he “played possum” to deceive his captors, his mind racing
through possible escape scenarios.
Going with Plan B
“Plan A was that I’d fnd an opportunity to throw myself of
the truck. Plan B was that I’d yell to attract attention, and people
would help me,” Jones recalls.
“As the truck picked up speed on Avenida Italia, the only fast
road out of the city, I discarded Plan A and began focusing on
Plan B. As long as we were going fast, there wasn’t much I could
do.
“But then the truck began to slow down again, and I realized
we were passing through a little suburb. I could hear the voices
of shoppers. We were coming into a plaza, a shopping area
where there were crowds. I started calling out, yelling for help.”
As Jones shouted frantically for assistance, his captor slugged
him with the butt of a 45-caliber pistol. “Tey’d seen too many
BACKFLIP TO
FREEDOM
Between 1968 and 1975, 33 U.S.
government ofcials abroad were
targeted for kidnapping.
Here is one of those stories.
BY ANN B . S I DES