Jeanne Moore, the Bakersfield teacher who was a hostage for eight days aboard a hijacked Indian Airlines jetliner, said she feared for her life "constantly" but does not intend to let the ordeal dampen her adventurous spirit or her zest for life.
Moore, 53, said at a news conference here that she is extremely grateful to be alive and back with her family but that she fears terrorist groups around the world may be emboldened by the success of the Islamic extremists.
Moore was the only American among 155 people taken hostage when five terrorists seized a jetliner Christmas Eve after it had taken off from Nepal.
The hijackers had demanded $200 million and the release of 36 jailed guerrillas, but in the end, after killing one hostage, they freed the rest and drove away from the grounded plane after the Indian government released three guerrillas.
"I'm glad it ended with a whimper and not with a bang," said Moore, clutching her two daughters' hands. "I'm really glad it was me and not my family members" on the plane.
Moore, an avid traveler, said the first unusual sign on the flight from Nepal to New Delhi "was men standing with grenades and guns."
The passengers were ordered to put their heads down, and their plane began a wild journey across the Middle East and South Asia. Moore said she counted six takeoffs and landings before the plane finally came to rest in Afghanistan.
Conditions on the plane were terrible, she said. Moore emerged from the plane in a wheelchair and said she has pneumonia.
She believes the terrorists wanted to intimidate the passengers so they would not try to escape, but they also wanted to win the passengers' affection, Moore said.
When they weren't beating people up and intimidating them, Moore said, the terrorists could be quite entertaining.
They told jokes, passed around a megaphone so passengers could do the same, and encouraged people to pray with them.
But they also frightened her by approaching her on the fifth day and asking her to spell the word for coffin. Apparently they wanted the spelling for a note they were writing.
Many passengers coped with the experience by sleeping "quite a lot," but Moore said she tried to sleep only a few hours a night "so I wouldn't miss anything."
CAPTION: Jeanne Moore said she does not intend to let the ordeal dampen her sense of adventure.