5 Insane True Stories of Hostages Outsmarting Their Captors
Despite the fact that we already published an article about awesome ways hostages have freed themselves from their captors, kidnappings are still happening in the world. Dammit, we got into the dick joke business to make a difference. This is just unacceptable. We won't stop until kidnappers everywhere are too worried about their victims making them look like jackasses to ever nap a kid again. To that end:
Benedict Cumberbatch Acts His Way Out of a Kidnapping Attempt
Benedict Cumberbatch's greatest performance? Convincing humanity he's not a poorly disguised giant grasshopper scouting the Earth for invasion by the Rigeloids. Second greatest performance? The time he talked his kidnappers into freeing him.
Back in 2005, Cumberbatch was in South Africa filming the TV miniseries To the Ends of the Earth. One evening, after an exhausting night of hard Cumbering, he and his friends were driving back when their tire blew out.
The rubber couldn't support Cumberbatch's massive girth.
To get to the spare, they needed to take all of their luggage out and pile it on the side of the road, which basically put up a reverse Bat-signal. Local criminals saw it and came running. A gang of six South Africans held the group at gunpoint and demanded money, weapons, and drugs. With little cash, less marijuana, and no deadly weapons (besides those chiseled cheekbones), Cumberbatch and friends were out of luck. They were thrown into a car and driven off. Cumberbatch complained that being tied up was interfering with his circulation (the most British response to a kidnapping ever), so the gang pulled over, took him out and began stuffing him in the trunk. That's when he had an idea.
He started ticking off numerous brain and heart problems he was suffering from -- including, apparently, a condition called "dying if I get locked inside a trunk." He told them, "I will die, possibly have a fit, and it will be a problem for you. I will be a dead Englishman in your car. Not good."
That Brit-corpse scent really sticks to the upholstery.
This, of course, was all a lie. Or, as it's called when beautiful people do it: acting. The kidnappers thought about it for a while and finally agreed. Cumberbatch and his friends were released. All because of the power of acting, and the fact that a dead Englishman is indeed terrible for the resale value of any vehicle.
Kosuke Tsuneoka Tricks His Captors Into Letting Him Send for Help
Oof. People who live-tweet things, right? Especially those clods that do it at inappropriate moments. All hashtagging funerals, weddings, their own kidnappings -- put down the phone and be present, people.
Wait, what was that last one?
Yep. Japanese journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka live-tweeted his own kidnapping.
He got lucky, or he would have been dead-tweeting his own kidnapping.
In April 2010, Kosuke, a war correspondent, was working in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan city of Kunduz when he was nabbed by the insurgent group Hezbi Islami. He says he was fed and treated well by the kidnappers, except for the part where they threatened to kill him if the Japanese government didn't send them large amounts of money (nothing puts a damper on the festivities like death threats). After five months of this, he was getting desperate. Then salvation came. In a Nokia box.
At first he feared they'd use it to beat him into submission.
One of the kidnappers got a new Nokia N70 phone and didn't know how to set it up, but he assumed that Kosuke, a Japanese guy, might. Is it still racist if it's true? What about if it saves somebody's life?
Kosuke talked to the soldier about this wonderful thing called Internet, which the soldier had never seen before. On the promise of free Al Jazeera broadcasts and all the infidel porn they could download, the abductors even allowed the reporter to call customer service and set up a web connection. The kidnappers also let him load Twitter, but rather than setting up accounts for them (@caliphatersgonnaphate was taken anyway), Kosuke accessed his own account and let the world know he was still alive. Seven minutes later, he also tweeted his location and the name of his kidnapper.
He'd have attached a selfie, but he wasn't that desperate for attention.
Kosuke was free to go the very next day. His abductors claimed he was released due to his having converted to the Islamic religion, but smart money is on their plans being blown wide open. Or maybe they were just grateful he opened their eyes to a whole new world of tits and cat memes.
Matthew Scott Escapes by Jumping Off a Cliff Into a River, Fugitive-Style
In 2003, 19-year-old Matthew Scott and a fellow English citizen were part of a group of 15 backpackers hiking in the Colombian Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. That's when the Chiquita-funded National Liberation Army, claiming to be paramilitary operatives, intercepted the group and said they were leading them to a safer path ... but only took eight of the tourists, abandoning those who were "physically unfit or did not have sturdy walking shoes." Unfortunately for Scott, he was among the elite group. A bit later, they revealed the lovely day-hike was actually a kidnapping.
Let this be a lesson to you, kids: don't stay in shape, and always wear flip-flops.
Add socks to ensure no kidnapper (or anyone else) will want to be seen with you.
At one point, the group was being taken up a narrow path on the side of a mountain, and it began to rain. We mean rain in the South American sense of the word -- awful, torrential conditions. Which Scott saw as the perfect opportunity to drop out of this party. He heard the sound of rushing water on his right and figured, "Hey, you know what's soft? Water."
Scott bolted, slid down a rain-slick precipice, then jumped off a cliff into the river below. It was only through sheer luck that he didn't fracture his arms, legs, or skulls. His massive titanium gonads, of course, would have been unscathed either way.
The splash as they slapped the water killed every piranha.
After being carried by the current for a while, Scott came ashore. But he was not out of the woods yet -- or jungle, to be more accurate. He wandered through the vegetation alone for 12 more days, surviving on a strict diet of water and willpower, before he came across a local tribe, who gave him food and sent for the army. Scott was saved. The other backpackers were released three months later, but Scott has a way better story to tell at bars.
Seven-Year-Old Erica Pratt Chews, Kicks, and Punches Her Way to Freedom
It was 2002, West Philadelphia (born and raised -- sorry, it's Pavlovian at this point). Locals James Burns and Edward Johnson heard that their neighbors, the Pratts, had tragically lost their uncle. The two concerned citizens decided to console the family ... by holding up one of its members for ransom in exchange for the uncle's insurance payment.
And so they abducted 7-year-old Erica. Two issues: there may never have even been any insurance money, and Erica was actually the reincarnated soul of John McClane trapped in a little girl's body.
She was later grounded for saying the "yippee ki yay" line.
After being snatched on a sidewalk near her home, Erica's hands were duct-taped, and she was blindfolded and thrown into a dark basement while the kidnappers dealt with the negotiations. While most kids would have spent the night crying (unlike us -- we would have cried and soiled ourselves), Erica decided to do something productive with her time and slowly chewed her way through the duct tape. Have you ever cut through duct tape with your teeth? Neither have we, but we have tried to open a string cheese like that. It did not go well.
Keep in mind she was using baby teeth.
By daybreak she was through the tape, and after getting her legs free, Erica felt around the pitch-black basement for a door ... only to find it locked. Dejected, she turned back, and- NOPE, she kicked right through it. In the next room, Erica straight-up punched out the window and screamed for help, alerting local residents, authorities, and possibly the rest of the Expendables. Within the hour, Erica was safe. Burns and Johnson were caught the next day. It's probably a good thing they weren't at the house when she escaped, or this entry would conclude with their obituaries.
Hassan "The Pirates Beater" Khalil Out-Pirates the Pirates
Hassan Khalil was the owner of two Egyptian fishing boats seized by pirates just off the coast of Somalia in April 2009. The pirates demanded millions of dollars in ransom for the ships and crew. After four months, the owner had managed to talk them down to $800,000 and convinced them to let him aboard so he could see how the crew was doing.
"Look, this is a beard you can trust."
He boarded the boat, presumably scared out of his mind, just hoping the pirates would honor their agreement and not harm him ... before he could signal his crew to distract them so the pirates wouldn't notice the motherfucking hail of bullets coming their way.
The pirates had been so blinded by the dollar signs in their eyes that they failed to notice Khalil's hired Somali militia approaching. A gun battle ensued. Even the abducted crew joined in, attacking their captors with knives, tools, and basically anything else that could be used to ruin a pirate's sunny disposition. The pirates lost the skirmish: two were killed and one was stabbed and thrown overboard. The rest suffer from crippling trust issues to this day.
Several now sleep with one eye open.
The living pirates were taken captive by the crew and shipped to Egypt to be tried for their crimes. Khalil was hailed as "The Pirates Beater" the moment he stepped off the plane. We're not going to correct the grammar. Would you?
Carolyn is a Twitterest with a much cooler hat than yours. Evan V. Symon is the interview finder guy for personal experience articles at Cracked, and Kier also works on personal experience articles. If you have an awesome job or experience, hit up the tipline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more stories that'll put hair on your chest, check out 6 Insane True Stories More Badass Than Any Action Movie and 5 Badass People Who Stood Up to Infamous Dictators.
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