YVONNE RIDLEY AT USF - Mitch Perry

03/31/04

Last night on the USF campus, British journalist and activist Yvonne Ridley spoke to an overflow crowd , estimated to be over 150 people ......

Ridley is a freelance reporter who made headlines when she was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan in September of 2001........She was released the day the U.S. began attacking Afghanistan in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks, on October 7th, 2001......

Since her release Ridley has written several books, including "In the Hands of the Taliban".

Ridley, who has converted to Islam, says that her passage to being a Muslim began on September 11th of 2001

She went as a reporter to Pakistan - sent by her editors, just days after the attacks, where she says she was one of 3,000 journalists

She wanted to go into Afghanistan, but was refused entry

(roll tape#1 o.q."much less a 2nd glance")

Ultimately, Ridley made it into Afghanistan....She said that she tried to explain to Afghans that the U.S. and Britain were soon going to be dropping bombs on their country, she said they didn't understand....Then she realized, the Taliban had banned television, and most Afghans had no idea of the intensity of the attacks in New York and Washington (roll tape#2 o.q. "for me")

Ridley was then apprehended by Taliban soldiers and imprisoned with 6 Christian women........Ultimately, she was released, the day after bombs began dropping from British And American planes...Ridley explains that she had told her Taliban captures that if they ever released her, she would convert to Islam (roll tape#3 o.q."by the length of her skirt")

OUTRO: Yvonne Ridley finishes her week long lecture tour in Florida with a speech tonight in Orlando.

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