NBC News and its chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel have posted revised accounts on the network’s website of the 2012 kidnapping of Engel and five other members of his team while they were covering events in Syria. Engel and his colleagues were held for five days and released following a gun battle at a rebel checkpoint. From the information available at the time, Engel, his team and others at NBC News concluded that the kidnappers were Shiite militiamen loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. New reporting by Engel and producers at NBC News, prompted initially by inquiries from the New York Times, led them to conclude that the kidnappers likely were Sunnis with criminal ties and not Shiites sympathetic to Assad.
That Engel and his team were kidnapped has never been in question. But following embarrassing disclosures of suspended NBC News anchor Brian Williams’ misrepresentation of his experiences covering the war in Iraq, the news division likely moved quickly to determine with whom the kidnappers were aligned and to lay to rest concerns about new information on the abduction.