COLIN Maclachlan thought there was a good chance he was going die when he was taken hostage in the Iraqi city of Basra.

The former SAS soldier was escorting MI6 special intelligence officers to Kuwait border in 2004 but on his way back he was captured at a checkpoint.

He felt a gun pressed to his head and heard the trigger being pulled in a mock execution and he only survived long enough for British troops to rescue him because his captors wanted to film his suffering in a propaganda video.

The horrific event took its toll and after that it was just months until Colin left the UK Special Forces.

But, surprisingly, recalling the incident again and again actually helped the former sniper, vehicle commander, forward air controller, medic, bodyguard and surveillance operator overcome the trauma.

The 45-year-old said: “A lot of people do talks or write books or they appear on TV and with that there is often an element of ‘decompression’ – getting stuff off your chest.

“We find that’s one of the most useful tools for people with PTSD – to say it, to write it – because it becomes more remote from you the more you talk about it.

“It’s almost a therapy in a way. It certainly was for me when I first started talking about it. I found it made the emotions come back at first but now it’s just part of another job and I can recount it quite easily.”

Colin will be doing just that at the Pyramid when he talks about his life from his very rocky relationship with his parents to his military career next Thursday, August 1.

Most of us are not made for the SAS but Colin told Weekend he hopes the audience can take something from the night in terms of the universal themes of resilience and adaptability.

After all, the army was a career that was thrust upon him.

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He added: “We’re all capable of doing a lot more than we think we are. And although we don’t like to embrace change, it can be a good thing.

“Quite often that fear of the unknown just exists in our mind and the thing itself isn’t scary at all.

“My mum dragged me along to the careers office and said: ‘You need to be out the house by the time you’re 16’.

“So I took a test in the army careers office and I got the highest score anyone had ever got at the Bathgate centre.

“They said I could join whatever I wanted and so I just thought I’d look for the nicest picture and that would be a good way of choosing a career for the rest of my life.

“I saw this guy in a blue short sleeved shirt in this sunny place and he was hanging off this radar dish. He was a telecommunications systems analyst and I said I wanted to be that guy.

“They said there was two years training and a two-year waiting list but my mum said I had to be out of the house so I joined the infantry two weeks later. I was 15 and I had to get special permission to join.

“She had to write a letter for me to say I could join the army and that was it. That was the last time I saw my parents.”

At just 15, it was a new start, a whole different way of life and the making of him all at once.

Colin said: “It was my first kind of experience of a ‘family’ because the people I was with cared about me.

“I was petrified joining the army. I wanted to be an actor or an astronaut but I made the best of it.

“It was a long old first year but by the end I’d done a complete 180 and I decided to give it my best go.

“Sometimes that’s life isn’t it? You don’t always find yourself in an environment that you would dream of but you just make the best of where you are.”

That was 1989 and after nine years in the Royal Scots Colin passed selection first time to join the 22 SAS. He was just 23.

He added: “Very few people get through selection because it’s a long, gruelling process. There were 196 guys in my selection and only 12 got through. That reflects the statistics in general.

“You need the right attributes like attitude, teamwork, determination and resilience. It’s really the top five per cent of our armed forces that go for selection every year. If you come out the other side, you’re doing alright.”

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During Colin’s SAS days he was involved in resolving the four-day stand-off when a hijacked plane with 150 passengers landed at Stansted Airport.

A group of Afghans hijacked a flight while fleeing the Taliban regime and Colin was the first sniper on the scene during the longest hostage siege on UK soil to date.

He said: “The gravity of it doesn’t really sink in until afterwards and you realise what you were part of. At the time it feels like another day in your job.”

It never plays out like an action film either.

Colin added: “Movies are done and dusted in an hour and a half and people are on edge for a matter of minutes.

“But this was four days and, just like when you go on patrol, you can’t be in that heightened state of anxiety for that long.

“You’ve got to operate so you’ve just got to brain active in terms of thinking about the ‘what ifs’. You do get the chance to rest but you’ve got to have all your stuff ready because at any moment it could go ‘noisy’ and you’ve got to chuck your kit on and assault the plane. You’ve got to maintain that tempo so you’re operating at your best.”


FORMER SAS soldier Colin Maclachlan spoke to us about the moment he was captured and feared for his life in Basra in 2004.

He said: “We were escorting MI6 special intelligence officers to the Kuwait border. On the way back it was just me and one other person and we got captured at a checkpoint.

“We were stripped, blindfolded, handcuffed and beaten up.

“We were lucky that the Ministry of Defence put two and two together and realised we were in there.

“Apparently, there was loads going on outside – big riots and armoured vehicles and things on fire – and we managed to get rescued before they executed us. I got moved to Baghdad after that and then within a few months I was out the army altogether.”

It was no coincidence.

The dad-of-two to Darius, eight, and Skye, six, added: “I think I had to make a decision at that time about whether I was the master of my own destiny and I didn’t think I was.

“You expect to get yourself in tricky situations but when you feel like a puppet on a string and not in charge of your own fate then you have to make a choice.

“If you don’t have faith in the people above you then you’ve got to make a clean break. It was difficult for me because it’s all I had known since I was 15. Coming out of the army was emotional and scary at the same time.”

Colin’s life since the military has been just as varied.

As well as the speaking circuit, he has appeared on Channel Four’s reality series, SAS: Who Dares Wins, and Channel 5’s Secrets of the SAS.

He also does motion capture work with Rockstar Games, including part of the portrayal of Red Dead Redemption 2’s main character Arthur Morgan.

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Colin said: “I’ve worked with them for about 11 years now. That all just started with a chance phone call. I always tell people don’t be afraid to take stuff on.

“You don’t know what’s around the corner and for me that’s been a great career and I’ve done games like Grand Theft Auto, Max Payne, LA Noire and Red Dead Redemption. It’s been awesome.

“I bought Red Dead Redemption 2 for my son and it’s quite surreal when he’s playing as me or, worse, killing me. That’s his little claim to fame – his dad’s Arthur Morgan.”

Colin Maclachlan presents Out of the Shadows with HC Promotions at Pyramid on August 1. Visit