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Anthony Shadid describes harrowing tale of capture to Oklahoma City audience

Anthony Shadid, 43, has a sense of optimism about the Arab world despite being a captive of soldiers loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. He spoke Thursday to an appreciative homecoming audience of about 250 people who gathered at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.
BY RANDY ELLIS Published: April 8, 2011

Shadid said he made some bad decisions leading up to the capture of the four journalists, including making a decision to stay longer when two of his colleagues recommended leaving earlier.

The journalists were blindfolded, beaten and placed in handcuffs so tight their hands went numb. A female colleague was groped. And none of them know the fate of their driver. They fear he might be dead. The journalists' families also had to endure days of fearing the unknown. Shadid said those are things with which he has to live.

But the speech also was optimistic.

“Syria will never be the same again. Egypt will never be the same again. Nor will Libya. Although there is going to be a lot of violence as we move forward, in the end it's going to turn out all right,” he said.

Shadid said he was particularly excited about the slogans he heard during the protests in Egypt — slogans which spoke of freedom, rights, constitutions, accountability and transparency.

“What was so interesting about Tahrir Square was an utterly new language, an indigenous vocabulary, people taking control of their lives and determining what kind of society they wanted to build,” he said.

U.S. intervention discussed

“Someone asked me, ‘What should the U.S. do?' I said, ‘It should do nothing at this point. The less it does, the less it gets involved, the less it intervenes I think in the Arab world and the Middle East at this point, the better off the Arab world is.' This is an era that's playing out on people's terms there.”

Shadid said he thinks U.S. intervention in Libya could be dangerous.

“I don't think it's going well and I don't think it's necessarily going to go well,” he said.