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Druse Considered Rescue Attempt For Terry Waite, Report Says

March 20, 1988

LONDON (AP) _ A newspaper reported Sunday that Druse militia members in Lebanon considered trying to rescue Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite from his abductors but dropped the idea because they thought it lacked U.S. support.

The Sunday Telegraph said Waite is alive and being held by an Iranian- backed radical group blamed for other kidnappings in Lebanon.

According to the newspaper, Waite was involved in an accident that required surgery, but it did not give specifics.

The newspaper said its story was based on an unnamed Lebanese source who played a key role in investigating Waite’s disappearance in Beirut in January 1987.

The newspaper said in a dispatch from Washington that Waite, 48, is being held captive by a Shiite group headed by Imad Mugniyeh, a member of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, or Party of God.

Hezbollah is believed to be the umbrella organization for groups blamed for many of the kidnappings of 22 foreigners held hostage in Lebanon, including nine Americans. The longest-held hostage is Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, who was captured March 16, 1985.

Waite, special envoy of Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, disappeared while on a mission to help win the release of hostages. No group has claimed to be holding him.

The Sunday Telegraph said for three days after his disappearance, Waite was kept in a house in the southern suburbs of Beirut and was in frequent contact with the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon.

It said Waite was ″not really a hostage″ during this period, but was driven around the southern suburbs under escort to visit people in the area.

The newspaper said Waite was spotted by members of the Druse militia who had served as his bodyguards. It quoted the source as saying they found the house in which Waite was staying, tapped the telephone and monitored his calls to the embassy.

It quoted the source as saying the Druse considered a military rescue but ″did not feel they had the full backing of the Americans for this.″

″After three days of semi-captivity the negotiations broke down and Mr. Waite became a fully-fledged hostage,″ the newspaper said.

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