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Posted at 3:18 PM ET, 06/25/2010

Reporter released by Taliban still gets threats here

By Jeff Stein

Jere Van Dyk, a freelance CBS reporter and author held by the Taliban for 45 days last year, still gets threatening messages from the Islamic militants on his answering machine in New York City.

“I am wary,” Van Dyk says. “I have received about 40 to 50 calls since I returned."

He also gets threats via e-mail.

"I have been threatened. I think most, maybe all, of the calls have come from my interpreter. He has called my family.”

Van Dyk came to suspect his interpreter was playing a double game during their captivity in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, which he had entered illegally in 2009 to make contact with the Taliban for a book, his second on the group.

"Captive: My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban" was published this week.

When Van Dyk was released, an FBI agent who accompanied him home told him there were three messages from the Taliban on his answering machine.

“I advise you not to answer the phone for a few days,” the agent said. “When you do, we’d like to know if you recognize the voices.”

“I saw the red light blinking on my answering machine,” Van Dyk writes of his unsteady return to his apartment. A day passed before he pressed the replay button.

“That night," he writes, "I woke up twice, afraid. Were the Taliban coming in the door?”

Today, he says, “I am concerned and frustrated that my interpreter is still calling. I worry about my family.”

His relatives also get threats, he says. Often there's no message on his answering machine, just a dial tone and a phone number with the country code "92" -- Pakistan.

Van Dyk says he didn't change or de-list his phone number "because I didn't want to give in to [them]." Keeping the number also allows him to keep recordings of the calls.

But now he's having second thoughts: "I know I've got to let this go."

The FBI is working on the threats, he says, but "there's a lot I don't know about what they're doing." A bureau spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Van Dyk, currently a consultant on Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda for CBS News, wrote an earlier book about his travels with the Islamic rebels in the 1980s, "In Afghanistan."

"I am worried about when the book comes out and interviews air what the Taliban and their backers in Pakistani military intelligence will think," he says.

By Jeff Stein  | June 25, 2010; 3:18 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Justice/FBI, Media, Military  
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