tv Talk to Al Jazeera Al Jazeera March 19, 2015 10:30am-11:01am EDT
always be the case. perhaps this is a good moment to work out some guidelines for how we will all share the world in the future. and a reminder that there's plenty more news on our website. all of the latest there on our top story and the situation in tunisia as well as yemen. aljazeera.com. [ ♪♪ ] >> we get the, you know, credible messages from credible source that is we can never trace back to their origins, you know, that austin is alive. >> people have, you know, had no reason to lie to us as far as we can tell. >> reporter: american journalist austin tice has been missing in syria in 2012. a video appeared on the
internet, he's blindfolded and led my men. >> we think the message, the title of the video "austin tice is alive." everything else about the video prompts more questions than gives answers. >> reporter: his parents say no one made demands in return for austin's freedom. >> i believe he's held in syria. who he is holding him, we have no idea. >> reporter: austin was a marine captain in afghanistan and iraq. after leaving the service he went to law school, but took a break in 2012 to go to syria and tell stories most media were ignoring. his parents called on president obama to do more. >> we want him to engage diplomatically in dialogue with the syrian government. >> reporter: i spoke to mike and deborah tice. they were preparing to launch
the free austin campaign. tell me about austin, he's oldest of seven of your children. tell me about him? >> he's a great guy. he has a huge personality. we hear regularly from friends of him, from people we haven't met. he was 31 when he went to syria. >> i could tell from his writing when he was in syria, and pictures that he took, that he had a sense of empathy. some of the pictures include children affected by the war, how concerned were you when he went there at that time. >> of course, you know, we were concerned. he did everything he could to ease our minds are mind by staying in touch. every day we would see either, you know, a tweet or a facebook or he would emill us directly. >> he prepared as well as he
could. he started getting in touch with other journalists that had worked in conflict zones. he had good training and background in emergency first aid. there was no chance of us changing his mind. >> that was never an option. >> you mentioned you'd follow his tweets and his last tweet was on august 11th, 2012. >> right, his birthday. >> i was reading the tweet. it says - spent the day at a free syrian army pool party with music by his favourite artist taylor swift. they bought me whiskey, hands down best birthday ever. >> what is the last contact you had with austin? >> for me, my last contact with him was on his birthday. i was getting ready to go canoeing in the boundary waters, which is absolutely no electricity, no phones or anything.
and he and i had made that same trip 17 years prior. so we were just emailing back and forth, you know, our amazing shared memories of that experience that we had together. >> i last communication with him was on the 13th, which was the last day that anyone, you know, heard directly from him. and a number of people did, a number of his friend did. that was his routine, he'd get in touch - he'd set aside a block of time and contact friends and family. we had mundane g-chat change "hey, how are thing going?" we know we talked to him and he was planning on leaving... >> that was august 13th, 2012. >> yes, august 13th and about a month and a half later after he disappeared a video surfaced online showing him blindfolded shoved around by
fighters, who knows from where, and he said "oh, jess us, oh, jesus", what was your reaction when you saw the video? >> it was hard to watch because of the content and the scene. me. someone alerted me to the fact that it was there, and this was late at night. and so i watched it. and it was very hard for me to, you know, share that with bennie because i knew it would be upsetting to her as well. >> you hadn't actually made that decision yet. you know how - being the mum waking up in the night, thinking something is not as it should be. so i got out of bed, looked around. mark was in the living room looking very distraught. what is it. >> he can't even speak to me. he doesn't seven respond to me, just hooking at me like he --
looking at me like he doesn't want to tell me. he finally does and, you know, that's pretty much all i remember from that day, the moment he told me about it. >> it wasn't long before we took what we think is the real message of that video, which is the title of the tice is alive." >> that's the only message of the video. >> you know, everything else about the video is, you know, prompts more questions than gives answers. and so there's no point speculating about, you know, who it was. they didn't identify themselves. >> and still haven't. >> and still haven't. >> didn't give us - there wasn't a follow-up, didn't give us a means to follow up. we take the meaning that is "austin tice is alive." >> it's an observer saying that the video may have been staged.
it seemed like production was very amateurish. >> well, like i say, you can read anything into it that you want to based on perspective and knowledge of these things. that's not - i mean, that's a rabbit hole for us. >> the most important thing, it's austin in the video. and he is alive. and we are working and preying and urging our government to do everything to get him home. find him and get him home. we'd been in touch directly and indirectly with syrian government officials. we have asked them to do everything they can to find austin, to return him to us safely. they said they would do that. so, you know, we hold him to that commitment. >> the video was released about 2.5 years ago. is that the last sign or the last images that you have seen of him. >> yes.
>> what leads you to believe that austin is still alive? >> we get the - you know, credible messages from credible sources that we can never trace back to their origin, you know, that austin is alive, that he's safe. that we need to be patient. you know, he - he is coming home. it's just a matter of what is that process going to look like. you know, what we want now it for whoever is holding austin to let us know what is the process that we need to engage to get him home so nobody has said we want a ransom or a prisoner swap or x or y. >> no. >> no. >> no one approaches in any way likely. there has been no claim of responsibility, and no request
for any kind of negotiation, you know, or any process like that. >> yes. >> but, you know, in addition to what the united states government, you know, has and is doing in terms of diplomatically and trying to find out where he is and whole holds him, we've been in contact with a number of people and, you know, pretty much with that exception, everyone that talks to us, and that we talk to tells us that they believe he's alive and he'll ultimately come home. process. we want that to be tomorrow. >> yesterday. >> yesterday. >> certainly not in the situation that austin's in, that metaphorically that our whole family is captive, and our lives are just ended. we travel to the region a couple of times. we have developed a lot of
friendships and contacts, and we have also gotten a sense of exactly what - what it's like there, because of this conflict. and, you know, it's humbling to us to see the millions of refugees, you know, yes, our whole family is also being held hostage, but there are untold families that are and have experienced things far, far worse. so we are cognisant of that, you know, we want all can't ifs released -- can't ifs released, stop. >> i want to go something you said a moment ago, that you are getting information from credible sources that austin is alive. can you tell me about the sources. are they in the syrian government. >> no. >> you are not able to say?
to. >> all we say is there were different kind of, you know, source, people that we have been able to connect with. and people would, you know, have no reason to lie to u as far as we can tell, and again, they believe austin is alive. >> so you have no idea who is holding him or where he may be? >> no, no. i do believe that he is still in syria. i believe he's being held in syria. but who is holding him, we just really have any idea. >> no. i mean, there's no - there's no indication that he's being held by, you know, alexander yesyn or any other extremist group. that being said, we can't say anything because we just simply don't know. we haven't been contacted. >> the state department said in
2013, that it believed that the syrian government had him in custody, what do you belief is the likelyhood of that. >> well, if they have that information, they have our email and phone number. my name is mum, and, you know, we strongly encourage them to share that with us, you know, if they believe that, and there's a basis, without clearance, we believe we were vetted by got as austin's parents to that information. we'd love to see that. >> we haven't seen evidence to show that. since then that hasn't been something that's repeated. >> no. and we have had direct communication from the syrian government saying that he is not in any of their official detention facilities. >> do you believe them? >> i have no reason not to believe
them. >> yes. what we want to believe is if they do what they told us they'd do, which is help find him. >> this is maybe a difficult question to ask. but how prepared are you for the possibility that austin might not come back? >> we don't speculate. that. >> no. >> we are preparing for him to come home. >> we - to the extent that we can think of it. everything is in order for him to come home. we are marking and waiting. >> looking forward to... >> yes. >>..that challenge, whatever that is, to get him back to his life and up and running again still ahead on "talk to al jazeera". four americans are known to have died in syria over the past several months, austin tice's
>> sunday night. >> 140 world leaders will take the podium. >> get the full story. >> there is real disunity in the security council. >> about issues that impact your world. >> infectious diseases are a major threat to health. >> "the week ahead". sunday 8:30 eastern. only on al jazeera america. i'm roxana saberi, and you are watching "talk to al jazeera". my guests are marc and deborah tice, their son austin, working as a journalist, has been missing since 2012. >> you may know a bit about my background. i was imprisoned for 100 days
when i lived and worked as a journalists. i talked to my parent, and asked what the hardest part was. and it was they didn't know if i was alive for two weeks. and then they got a phone call. you? >> waking up and realising that it's not a nightmare is the hardest part of every day. feeling disconnected from my own life. it's really hard. i really am just a mum. i do groceries and laundry and children. and so every single thing that - that has defined my life for the last 2.5 years has been something unfamiliar to me. it's challenging. i don't feel available to, you
know, my other six children. >> you know, it might be hard to imagine what austin is thinking now. it's universal no child wants their parents to suffer because of them. i was moved because of what kayla mueller wrote in a letter, the american aide worker who died in syria, whilst held by i.s.i.l. she wrote this to her family and said - if i can say i suffered at all thought this whole experience, it's only knowing how much suffering i have put you all through. do you think austin is feeling the same way? >> yes, i was going to ask you about that, how you felt in your 100 days, because we have spoken with a number of former hostages, you know - some recent, some long ago, and pretty much with that except they said that the thing that
was worse for them was thinking about how their captivity was affecting their family and friends. and you know, i - i expected austin is feeling the same thing. he is probably thinking mum's going to kill me when i get home. she will be so mad at me for doing this. but you know, it's - it's hard. you talk about what is hard. you know, it's hard to think about what he might be thinking or what his days are like kayla mueller, she is one of four americans who have died in syria over the past several months. we had journalist james foley, steven sotloff, peter kassig, another american aide worker and you tweeted about kayla mueller after she died. you wrote may kayla mueller rest
in peace, our hearts are breaking for the kayla mueller family. how hard has it been every time you hear news of another american dying in syria? >> it pushes the edge. it's an overwhelm ing - you know you think about the suffering that they endured for a long time. and then to have a tragic end. you know and then, of course, you have the parent, and, you know, we are all - we all have joined our hearts, hoping and working toward an entirely different outcome, and so, you know, the sense of - you know,
what more could we have done, or hard. >> have you been in touch with the other families? >> yes. yes. and the family that we have really established a relationship with, it's the foley family, we had contact with the other families as well and, you know. you were all in this accidental journey together. >> you just launched a campaign the "free austin tice" campaign, and there are blindfolds you have been handing out. what does it signify? >> when journalists are targeted, when journalists are captured, we are all blindfolded. that's the message, is, in fact,
journalists have a special dispensation by international treaty, by geneva convention. they are set apart. their safety should not be threatened, and their access and ability ci to report should be -- ability to report should be in no way compromised. this is an international agreement recognising the need to protect journalists. when they are not protected we are blindfolded. we don't see the world clearly. >> asking people to take blindfolded. >> rite. >> take a selfie. >> sign the petition, asking our president to do all he can do bring austin home. >> what more would you like the president to do? >> we want him to engage diplomatically in dialogue with the syrian government. because our government has said they will do all they can to
find austin, and bring him safely home. the syrian government told us the same thing. so what do we need? >> we need the line of communication between the two of them. and, you know, we do not want a kinetic action, rescue attempt or anyone's life in danger. we want dialogue. that is what we want. >> yes. >> we think that with dialogue our son will soon be home you recently wrote an op-ed saying that as the white house does a review of its hostage policy, it should involve the families of host edges, and former hostages, more than it is now. have? >> the number one suggestion is that someone needs to have responsibility, accountability and authority solely towards
bringing hostages safely home. exist. >> not that we are suggesting a new level of bureaucracy or anything like that. all the resources are dedicated. what needs to happen is one entity that is already part of the process, that's already funded in the process. that is just not functioning efficiently and effectively, that a person be designated. >> should be centralized. >> to have a singular objective towards the hostage, and then every decision is filtered through that singular objective. so the fbi doesn't get lost in a criminal investigation. so that state department doesn't get lost in international policies, that this person continues to direct toward, yes,
this is "talk to al jazeera" i'm roxana saberi speaking with the parents of austin tice, missing in syria since the summer of 2012678. >> -- 2012. >> i know a lot feel sympathetic for austin, but a lot say why should the government be responsible for someone that puts themselves at risk and goes to a dangerous place like syria. what do you say to them? >> a couple of things. one, i would ask them how do you know syria is a dangerous place. >> you know that because journalists have gone there and reported that. you know, we have all seen that governments don't necessarily tell us all the bad stuff. it takes journalists sometimes to witness it and share it so that we know
what is going on. if you don't think people should go in harm's way, you are going to be blindfolded. the other thing that debby mentioned, there is established paradigm, internationally that journalists journalists are encouraged to go because of dangerous places and share information. we have to be informed. secondly, it is an established function to protect citizens. circumstanceses. >> if you could say anything to the people holding austin, what would it be. >> it would be as anning as you are holding them
them. >> you know, we don't - i don't understand how anyone is benefitting from austin being held. so i would hope his captures would come to see that same thing, and simply send him home to us. >> if you could say anything to austin himself right now, what would it be. >> well, of course, you know, we have to remind him how much we love him and much we miss him. he needs to stay strong. we are doing everything we can to bring him home as soon as possible. you don't give up. >> yes. don't give up. we love you, austin, we know how strong you are. you should never forget how strong you are, and we'll see you soon, we hope. >> thank you both very much for joining us. >> thank
you. >> thank you. >> announcer: this is al jazeera. ♪ hello, welcome to the al jazeera news hour live from our headquarters in doha. coming up in the next 60 minutes. [ gunfire ] [ shouting ] >> chaos in southern yemen, gun battles erupt between rival groups leaving planes stranded on the runway. nine tooem are arrested in tunisia following a deadly attack on