AC: "He was held there for ten months, always tied, always masked. For the last three months when they would close the lid, they would cement it over."

Length: 8:24

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Michael's prepared piece on Roy Hallums, an American contractor who was held hostage by Iraqi insurgents for 311 days. Michael also discusses some of the details of his own close call on Haifa Street in 2004.

ANDERSON COOPER: Up close tonight, we have some extraordinary video to show you. It's the rescue of an American held hostage in Iraq for nearly a year. You may remember him. His name is Roy Hallums, that's him there being held hostage, an American contractor.

And take a look at this exclusive video. You'll only see it here at CNN. And we're going to show you much more of it in a moment. It's Special Forces rescuing Roy, and the ordeal he went though is simply stunning.

Our Michael Ware has spent years covering the war in Iraq, was briefly himself held captive. He joins us now. Michael, the conditions that Roy Hallums was held in, it's unthinkable.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Honestly, it is mind boggling, Anderson. I mean, I've been grabbed a few times by different people in different places. I had not had to endure the long-term captivity that Hallums and others have experienced.

But even compared to other people, what Hallums went through -- I'm the only person who's been able to go back to the house where he was held and go into the...

COOPER: And this is the underground cell?

WARE: Literally, literally. It was in a farmhouse. There was a block you would lift up and you would climb down, and there would be this space. You couldn't even stand up in it. There were no lights, there was no ventilation.

And for the last three months -- he was held there for ten months, always tied, always masked. For the last three months when they would close the lid, they would cement it over.

COOPER: They would actually close it up?

WARE: They would cement it over.

So if you take a look here, you can see this was a space. It had a lid that they would then cover and a family lived above. They were the cover story for the kidnap gang.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

WARE: But for the last three months, they would trowel over with concrete and every three days chip it open to feed him again. That's a nightmare I can't even begin to fathom.

COOPER: Let's take a look at this piece.


WARE: Three months after Roy Hallums disappeared in Baghdad in 2004, this proof of life video appeared.

ROY HALLUMS, KIDNAPPING SURVIVOR (videotape): My name is Roy Hallums, I'm an American national. Please help me.

WARE: Hallums was an American contractor, building mess halls and providing food to the U.S. military, and his kidnappers were demanding $12 million for his release.

HALLUMS (on camera): You're just basically in shock. And you're moving and you're walking but it's almost like an out of body experience. You can see what's going on, but you don't believe it.

WARE: Before it was over, Hallums would be held nearly a full year by Iraqi insurgents -- 311 days, something I know a little about having been taken by al Qaeda myself.

WARE (on camera): When I was grabbed by al Qaeda and pulled from my car, I mean, they were just going to cut my head off. But it was like it was someone else. At that moment, it felt to me like it was happening to someone else even though I was completely or even hyper-aware of the moment.

HALLUMS: You're right. It's like it's almost third person, that I can sit there and tell the story. I can answer any question anybody has. It doesn't bother me, and what's for lunch, you know?

WARE (voice-over): This is Hallums at the end of his ordeal. He lost 40 pounds but says he never lost hope. For most of the time, his kidnappers kept him in a secret and cramped underground cell, the entrance sealed shut.

HALLUMS: You could hear them troweling this concrete over the door, and then they would shove a freezer over the top of that to hide where the door was. You're buried in there, and if they decide, well, it's just too dangerous to go back to the house and they never come back, then you're in your tomb.

WARE (on camera): Dead men tell no tales.

(voice-over): Eight months after his proof of life video had appeared, U.S. Special Forces received a crucial tip on his whereabouts. Worried Hallums would be moved, they instantly launched a daylight rescue, four helicopters sweeping into a village south of Baghdad, this video shot on a soldier's helmet camera and beamed back live to headquarters. The men smashed their way into the house. They knew to look under the freezer, under the rug, and then under the concrete.

HALLUMS: I heard Special Forces pounding on this little door in the room where I was, and the guy jumps down in there and says, "Are you Roy?" It's like, well, this can't really be happening, because after all this time, they actually found where I was, you know, which was a miracle.

WARE: Two days after Roy Hallums was rescued, I joined a U.S. hostage team gathering information and I shot this video as they returned to the Iraqi farmhouse and Hallums' hellhole.

It gave me a sense of what may have awaited me or any other of the westerners kidnapped in Iraq. And now talking with Hallums, it's forcing me to deal with things I would rather forget.

My experience began here. I was grabbed in late 2004, not far from where you see this burning American Bradley Fighting Vehicle. This is Haifa Street in the center of Baghdad, and al Qaeda had just taken over the neighborhood. Like Hallums, I was taken at the height of al Qaeda's campaign of their videotaped beheadings, like this one, the last images of one contractor Nicolas Berg alive.

I actually videotaped my own capture. My camera catching one of my abductors pulling a pin on a grenade before they pulled me from the car.

Unlike Hallums, for me there was to be no imprisonment. This was al Qaeda, and I was going to die. They readied me immediately for beheading, to be filmed with my own camera. I was only saved by Iraqi insurgents I knew who resented al Qaeda's takeover.

(on camera): Your moment of liberation, brother.

(voice-over): Meeting Hallums, sharing our experiences, flushed up in me a mix of emotions. I can't even bear the thought of being held for months on end like he was.

HALLUMS: You're laying there in this little hole in the dark. You're tied up, hands and feet, and every little noise, every bump, it's, is this it? Is this when they're going to do it?

WARE: And as with much in war, you gain a new perspective on life. We both know nothing is ever going to be the same for us again.

(on camera): Is it the little things? Like for me, with all the conflict I've been in, it's the tiny things. It's a smell or it can be a sound, or it can be a certain texture or color or word that triggers or evokes memory. What is it for you?

HALLUMS: Usually little things. I had nylon zip ties on my wrists 24 hours a day for ten and a half months. The other day I was out walking my dog and my neighbor had brought something home from the store and he was cutting the zip ties off of the bundle, and I looked down at his yard, and there's these zip ties laying there that had been cut off.

And it's just one of those things, you remember, you had a different relationship with that zip tie than he has.

WARE: In the end, though, it's those who love us waiting back home, often unknowing, who suffer the most, while survivors like Hallums -- barely able to walk or talk after not being able to do either for so many months -- know just how lucky we are to be alive.


WARE: And yet as luckily as we are, Anderson, the Roy Hallums of the world and others know all of this comes with a price that we'll just keep paying forever.

COOPER: It's unbelievable how calm he is describing it.

WARE: He's such a stoic individual. He is so understated. Yet what I fear is there is so much buried.

COOPER: It's great that he's made it this far. Michael, appreciate it, Michael Ware.

WARE: Absolutely.