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Families Of Hijacked Passengers Warn Against Military Action

June 20, 1985

Undated (AP) _ Relatives of hostages held in Lebanon by Shiite Moslems met with President Reagan and the Rev. Jesse Jackson and agreed with the president that a military assault to try to free the 40 Americans is out of the question.

″We definitely do not want any military action taken″ to gain the hostages’ release, said Jim Hoskins of Indianapolis, father of hostage James Hoskins, 22. ″I think we would have the death of 40 people.″

Reagan met with the Hoskins family aboard Air Force One on Wednesday before returning to Washington after addressing the U.S. Jaycees convention. He urged caution and promised no deals with the terrorists.

Chief of staff Donald Regan said Hoskins’ mother, Deanna, made ″a mother’s plea″ to the president that the administration not do anything that would give rise to hostile acts against the hostages.

In New York, Michael and Shaffer Suggs, brothers of hostage Clinton Suggs, 29, discussed his captivity with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who in 1984 helped negotiate release of an American held by Syrians.

″I appreciate his concern,″ Michael Suggs said of Jackson on Wednesday. ″I am aware of his record. I’m just hoping and praying that, along with Rev. Jackson and other governmental officials, they can work out something with the people that are holding the hostages.

″I appreciate President Reagan’s belief of no retaliation at this time. Being a Christian, I realize that sometimes you must turn the other cheek.″

In Little Rock, Ark., John Palmer, son of hostage Jimmy Dell Palmer Sr., said, ″If they try any military action, they won’t accomplish anything except killing people.″

He said his family has joined with other hostage families in a campaign to encourage telegrams to Reagan to persuade him to ask Israel to release 700 Shiite prisoners.

The terrorists who hijacked Trans World Airlines Flight 847 last Friday on a flight from Athens, Greece to Rome, have demanded their release.

Meanwhile, former hostages returning home expressed relief and joy and told stories of courage.

William Berry of Burbank, Calif., said that on the plane ″it was very strange. They (the hijackers) would have great compassion and then turn around and conk someone over the head.″

The Rev. P. William McDonnell, a Roman Catholic priest and former hostage from Algonquin, Ill., said the hijackers ″overstepped their bounds and they hurt innocent people. ... I offer my forgiveness, not my judgment.″

In Cumming, Ga., Arlene Ashmore, who was released Saturday with her mother Ann, recalled her fear about the lack of security at Athens airport.

″I remember distinctly,″ she said, ″because I had a camera case on me and they never checked it ... I remember thinking at the time that it was odd, that I could have anything in there.″

Edward Liebst, 65, of Lake in the Hills, Ill., said he was surprised to learn after he was freed that Navy diver Robert Stethem had been killed by the hijackers in Beirut, although he heard screams.

″At first I thought they were faking it - that they were screaming themselves to make us feel more terror,″ Liebst said.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis ordered flags lowered to half- staff on all state buildings in memory of Stetham, of Waldorf, Md.

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