Hezbollah Leader Says Israeli Soldier Could Be Killed With PM-Hostages, Bjt
BAALBEK, Lebanon (AP) _ A senior Hezbollah leader says his pro-Iranian group has influence over kidnappers of Western hostages in Lebanon.
The admission Sunday by Hussein Mousawi was the first time Hezbollah, or Party of God, has acknowledged its relations with groups holding the 16 captives.
″If America is able to help itself and help its hostages by stopping its support for Israel and by not participating in anything that hurts Moslems in Lebanon ... this could encourage Hezbollah to think of a way to help resolve the hostage issue,″ Mousawi said.
He also said Hezbollah might kill a captured Israeli soldier unless Israel frees an abducted Shiite Moslem cleric.
Mousawi spoke at a meeting with foreign reporters arranged by Hezbollah in the ancient town of Baalbek, 50 miles northeast of Beirut.
Reporters asked what would happen to two Israeli soldiers the group holds if Israel does not free Sheik Abdul Karim Obeid, a Hezbollah-affiliated cleric.
″If we find out that the interests of Islam and Moslems and the interests of the oppressed dictates that one of the Israeli soldiers be killed, so will it be,″ Mousawi responded.
Israel refused comment on his statement.
Mousawi said some members of pro-Iranian organizations holding the 16 Western hostages in Lebanon are ″known to us and we hold consultations with them from time to time.″
″There are telephone calls, hello’s between us,″ he added.
Hezbollah consistently has denied it has anything to do with the abductions, but the party generally is believed to be the umbrella for Shiite Moslem extremists holding most Western hostages.
The kidnappers ″may listen to us more than they would to Algeria because our voice is closer to them and we’re living together″ in the same areas, Mousawi said.
Algeria’s ambassador to Lebanon, Khaled Hasnawi, has said his country is undertaking a new initiative to free all the Western hostages.
Mousawi denied there have been any negotiations on an Israeli offer to trade Obeid and Shiite prisoners for three Israeli servicemen and all the Western hostages.
″Let them (the Israelis) kidnap 250 more clerics, there will be no negotiations. Let them kidnap two-thirds of Hezbollah if they could, there will be no negotiations,″ he said.
Israeli commandos on July 28 abducted Obeid, 33, with two companions from his house in southern Lebanon.
The Organization of the Oppressed on Earth, another pro-Iranian group, said it killed U.S. Marine Lt. Col. William R. Higgins on July 31 because Israel refused to free Obeid.
Higgins, 44, helped command U.N. peacekeepers in south Lebanon until he was kidnapped on Feb. 17, 1988. A U.N. envoy, Marrack Goulding, has been in Lebanon trying to find Higgins’ body and determine the circumstances of his death.