This week Locked Up Abroad spotlights freelance photographer Matthew B. Schrier’s remarkable escape from Al Qaeda.
Schrier was working in Syria near the Turkish border in December 2012 when a Jeep cut his party off on the road and three men leapt out. They captured him and placed him in the back of their 4×4 at gun point.
The group turned out to be Jabhat al-Nursa, who are an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in Syria. Schrier was moved about various prisons in Aleppo over the next few months and decided to convert to Islam as a way of getting better treatment.
During his time in prison he was beaten, given electric shocks and the rebels even emptied his bank accounts by tricking his family into thinking he was communicating with them.
In July 2013 Schrier and his cell mate Peter Theo Curtis hatched a plan to escape their prison. With the help of Curtis, Schrier managed to squeeze through a small window and get out but he was unable to get Curtis through the hole.
Schrier claims that as he was escaping Curtis tried to alert guards, something Curtis initially admitted. He later changed his story, though the second version of events has not been taken seriously or widely reported.
Locked Up Abroad airs on Wednesdays at 9/8c on National Geographic Channel.