Shiite Leader Sets Conditions for Release of Hostages
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ A Shiite Moslem leader was quoted today as saying that the kidnappers holding Western hostages in Lebanon will not release them unless the United States helps free Moslems imprisoned in Kuwait and Israel.
″I don’t believe that those who held the hostages for a year or two or even five years will let them loose free of charge,″ Hussein Mousawi said in an interview broadcast by the Voice of Islam radio station in east Lebanon’s ancient city of Baalbek.
The interview was quoted today in Beirut’s independent An-Nahar newspaper.
Mousawi heads the pro-Syrian Islamic Amal wing of Hezbollah, or the Party of God, Iran’s main Shiite ally in Lebanon. He contended that Hezbollah holds none of the 18 Westerners missing in Lebanon, including eight Americans.
″We are not concerned with the hostage issue. We do not have any hostage,″ he said. ″The hostages are held by security groups that maintain their individualities and take no orders from Hezbollah or Islamic Amal.″
Hezbollah is widely believed to be the umbrella for various Shiite hostage- holding factions, despite the party’s public disclaimers.
Mousawi said the demands made by the kidnappers were ″justified, irrespective of the plight of the hostages.″ He listed the release of 15 convicted terrorists imprisoned in Kuwait for bombing the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983 and the release of Arab prisoners in Israeli jails.
Islamic Jihad, or Islamic Holy War, the group that holds American hostages Terry Anderson and Thomas Sutherland, has long demanded freedom for he prisoners in Kuwait.
Anderson, the chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, is the longest held of the Western hoatages. He was abducted March 16, 1985.
Several other hostages have been held almost as long, including Sutherland, acting dean of agriculture at the American University of Beirut, who was kidnapped in Lebanon on June 9, 1985.
The Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, which holds kidnapped U.S. professors Alann Steen, Robert Polhill and Jesse Turner, has demanded 400 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners be freed from Israeli jails.
Israel has rejected the demand.
″The United States and all those concerned with the hostages’ issue should consider the rights of these people and how to return some of them,″ Mousawi said.
″America influences Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Things are intermingled in the domain of global arrogance but all revolve within America’s sphere of influence,″ he said.
″If they want their hostages freed, then they have to make some moves with the Israelis, the Kuwaitis, the Saudis and the Maronites. Maronites kidnapped brothers of ours, believers, Iranian diplomats.
″Every usurped right is to be recovered. We are not directly involved in this problem but this my personal analysis.″
Three Iranian diplomats and their Lebanese driver were seized by Maronite Christian militiamen in July 1982. All are believed to be dead.