As we were heading back toward Benghazi, I saw soldiers on the horizon, and they were wearing uniforms, so it was different from the rebels. And it didn’t make sense because, of course, Gaddafi’s troops were coming from the west, and we were heading east. So I said, “You guys, I think those are Gaddafi’s guys.” And they started laughing, and they were like, “No, there’s no way. They’re behind us.” And suddenly, as we got closer and closer, it was clear that it was Gaddafi’s guys, and they had flanked the desert. So they went all the way around the desert and cut the road in front of us.
So everyone started screaming something different. Tyler was screaming, “Don’t stop!” Anthony and Steve — everyone was just screaming. Mohammed stopped the car at the checkpoint and jumped out and said, “Sahafa! We’re journalists.” At that point, it was complete mayhem. The rebels that we had been covering started opening fire on the checkpoint, and we were literally in a wall of bullets. Mohammed, I never saw him again. He jumped out the left. I was sitting on the left-hand side behind him. Tyler, Anthony, and Steve jumped out the right, and as soon as they got out of the car, one of Gaddafi’s troops was on each of them, sort of pulling at them. And because there were bullets everywhere, I was sitting in the car, and as the only woman — this happened to me in Iraq, too — I sort of always get left. They’re like, “Do we kidnap her? Do we leave her? What is she? Who is she?” So they sort of just left me.
So I’m sitting in the car, thinking I have to get out of the car because it’s not armored. I knew that the bullets were coming from behind me. So I made a decision to crawl across the back seat and jump out the same side as my colleagues. When I got out, one of Gaddafi’s guys was on me, pulling at my cameras. I was instinctively just pulling back, sort of fighting with him in the middle of the crossfire. Then finally, I said, “Okay, I have to. Obviously, this is ridiculous.” So I let go of my cameras. I let go of one camera. And the other camera, I still had because I remember I was trying to pull the disks out as I was making a run for it. I remember I pulled them out, and I don’t remember if I ever was able to put them — I usually put them in my bra. But I remember pulling them out as I was running. Anthony tripped and fell in front of me. I remember looking at him, and he was screaming for his life. And I thought, “Okay, this is as bad as I think it is. I’m not just overreacting.”