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Held Hostage

Airs Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

"Held Hostage," a new one-hour documentary special on PBS, details for the first time the real and full story behind the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist attack in Algeria on the In Amenas gas facility, which was jointly operated by Algerian and European energy companies, including BP. The program, premiering Tuesday, October 22, 2013, raises unanswered questions about the attack: How did a convoy of terrorists travel undetected hundreds of miles and gain control of one of Algeria’s most important and valuable gas facilities? Ultimately, who is responsible for the safety of the facility’s workers?

Credit: Courtesy of PBS/Nutopia

Promotional still from the film "Held Hostage," a new one-hour documentary special on PBS, which details for the first time the real and full story behind the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist attack in Algeria on the In Amenas gas facility, which was jointly operated by Algerian and European energy companies, including BP.

Film Quotes

“'Held Hostage' recounts an important event in contemporary history and gives viewers an unprecedented glimpse through first-person testimony and dramatic reconstruction into an extremely tense and dangerous situation,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming for PBS. “We are proud to be collaborating with Nutopia to bring this important story to U.S. audiences.”

“This powerful film tells an extraordinary and tragic story, and we’re incredibly grateful these brave men and women were willing to recount the terrifying ordeal they and their family members suffered in Algeria,” said Jane Root, Nutopia CEO.

In January 2013, foreign employees of the remote natural gas facility located deep in the Sahara — which included men from more than a dozen countries like the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Japan and Norway, as well as hundreds of Algerians — were held hostage over a four-day period.

Some hostages were draped with explosives, some were executed, and others in the group were killed during a raid by Algerian Special Forces that ended the siege. All told, more than 37 hostages lost their lives in the attack.

Prior to the siege, foreign employees feared that the area around In Amenas was vulnerable due to an increase in militant violence in neighboring countries and a lack of security at their isolated facility. Despite their expressed concerns, security remained minimal and the employees were nearly defenseless against the eventual attack on In Amenas.

"Held Hostage" combines compelling, emotional and exclusive first-person interviews with expert analysis and dramatic reconstructions of significant events and moments that unfolded over the four days. Among those interviewed are survivors of the ordeal and family members of those who were killed, many speaking on camera for the first time.

Survivors recount efforts to stay hidden from the assailants while trying to determine what was happening around them. The film details acts of heroism among friends and colleagues, and asks lingering questions about whether more hostages could have been saved. It also explores the response of the international community as the siege was unfolding.

"Held Hostage" is produced by Nutopia, with Nav Raman serving as executive producer. Director Bruce Goodison’s credits include BAFTA-winning "Our War," critically acclaimed "Bin Laden: Shoot to Kill" and Emmy-nominated "The Flight That Fought Back."

Held Hostage - Preview

This new PBS documentary reveals the terrifying story of Western citizens held hostage by Al Qaeda at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria. Held Hostage includes exclusive interviews with survivors and the families of some of those who died, many of whom are speaking on camera and telling the full story of the incident for the first time.