AP NEWS
Related topics

Beirut Papers Publish Letter to Anderson

March 16, 1990

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Beirut newspapers today published a letter to U.S. hostage Terry Anderson from the mother of his child on the fifth anniversary of his abduction in west Beirut.

Local television stations also planned to screen a videotape of Anderson’s 4-year-old daughter, Sulome, who was born 83 days after Anderson was kidnapped.

As Anderson began his sixth year in captivity, pro-Iranian kidnappers threatened to kill three American educators they are holding unless the United States meets their unspecified demands. The State Department denounced the threat as a ″cynical manipulation″ of the hostage relatives timed with ceremonies for Anderson.

In Damascus, former President Jimmy Carter said today he thought chances for the hostages’ release were better than they have been for ″some years.″

He said he did not know if there were any secret U.S. dealings on the matter but said ″there are statements being made from Tehran that to me are encouraging.″

Anderson, 42, the chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, was seized March 16, 1985. He is the longest-held hostage, although some others have been held almost as long.

In a videotape broadcast on NBC’s ″Today″ show and scheduled for broadcast on Beirut television, Anderson’s daughter Sulome is seen at home in Nicosia, Cyprus, dancing for her father, then speaking to him.

″I love you Daddy,″ the girl says. ″Come home. Please come home. Send me to the circus.″ She thanks her father for a bicycle she was given for Christmas in his name.

In a letter published by seven Beirut newspapers, Madeleine Bassil told Anderson that she and their daughter also feel like hostages.

″We are in as much captivity, Terry, only our living space is bigger here and it’s shared by millions. I know you will keep well, I know you will never give up.

″The world without God is not the world, it’s hell,″ she said. ″A home without a husband or father is not a home, it’s hell.

″I wonder if you know that Sulome will be five years old in June.

″Tonight a videotape of her will be shown on TV. Will you be able to see it, to see her pretending she is talking to you?

″Until we meet again soon. God bless you. We love you,″ the letter concluded.

In Paris, two former hostages, Jean-Paul Kauffmann and Roger Auque, put on blindfolds and chained themselves to a tree outside the Iranian Embassy to protest Anderson’s captivity.

In Washington, relatives of Anderson and other hostages gathered for a commemorative ceremony in Lafayette Park across from the White House.

In Tokyo, where Anderson worked from 1977 to 1981, foreign correspondents raised empty glasses in a tribute to their colleague.

On Thursday, the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine said in a statement that it is ″holding agents and spies against our people and they will be executed if the American administration fails to meet our demands.″

The group did not specify its demands. It previously offered to trade professors Robert Polhill, 55, of New York City; Alann Steen, 50, of Boston; and Jesse Turner, 42, of Boise, Idaho, for 400 Arab inmates of Israeli jails. Israel said no, and the Reagan administration refused to pressure Israel.

The three American educators were kidnapped at gunpoint on Jan. 24, 1987, from the campus of the U.S.-affiliated Beirut University College.

A handwritten statement in Arabic was delivered to the independent newspaper An-Nahar, accompanied by a new photograph of Steen. A statement to a Western news agency was accompanied by a recent picture of Polhill.

Steen and Polhill are among 18 Westerners, including eight Americans, held hostage in Lebanon.

In its statement the Islamic Jihad also accused the United States of responsibility for the emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel ″after pressure on the Soviets who succumbed and collaborated in this big conspiracy.″

The statement warned, ″Our people shall not stand handcuffed in front of this conspiracy. We shall not at all suffice ourselves by watching but shall begin taking the adequate measures to prevent the arrival of the Soviets.

″All airports facilitating the transport as well as airlines, their jetliners and offices, will be direct targets for us. This is a warning and a threat.″

The Kremlin has lifted restrictions on Jewish emigration and hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews now are expected in Israel. The issue has provoked a storm of protest in the Arab world.

Arabs fear the Soviet Jews will settle in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where Palestinians hope to create a homeland.

The letter from the Islamic Jihad, which is believed comprised of Shiite Moslem zealots loyal to Iran, said people and organizations that recently said the hostages should be freed on humanitarian grounds should stay out of the matter. The group ″denounces media reports about humanitarian moves to free the hostages and close this case,″ the statement said.

The Tehran Times newspaper in Iran, which has close ties to Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, said in recent editorials that the hostages should be freed on Islamic, humanitarian grounds. Rafsanjani said he believed the issue was moving oward a solution.

Sheik Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, spiritual guide of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, or Party of God, said in a sermon last month that a humanitarian means of freeing the hostages must be found.

Hezbollah is believed to be the Shiite umbrella organization for the extremist groups holding the foreign hostages.

AP RADIO
Update hourly