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Envoy Meets Militia Chief on Missing British Teachers

April 4, 1986

SIDON, Lebanon (AP) _ The British Ambassador met today with militia leader Mustafa Saad in the southern port city of Sidon in an effort to locate two British teachers believed kidnapped in Beirut eight days ago.

Ambassador John Gray conferred for 45 minutes with Saad, leader of the Popular Liberation Army whose Syrian-backed militiamen control Sidon, provincial capital of south Lebanon. It was Gray’s second meeting with Saad in a week and the third in the last month.

″My visit was to discuss the fate of the two missing British teachers, which I have already discussed with various other parties in Lebanon,″ Gray told reporters after the meeting.

He said he has already discussed the plight of Leigh Douglas, 34, and Philip Padfield, 40, with senior officials of the Druse Progressive Socialist Party and the powerful Shiite Moslem Amal militia in Beirut.

Gray did not elaborate. He left by car for Beirut, escorted by several armed bodyguards, immediately after the meeting.

Saad told reporters he and Gray also discussed the fate of British journalist Alec Collett, 64, who was kidnapped on Beirut’s southern outskirts March 25, 1985. His abductors claimed last month he was in ″extreme danger″ because of a severe kidney ailment.

Douglas, of Norfolk, England, is a political science professor at the kidnap-plagued American University of Beirut. Padfield, of Bideford, Devon, is director of Beirut’s International Language Center. They were last seen in militia-ruled west Beirut last Friday night.

No group has claimed reponsibility for their disappearance. But Shiite extremists have kidnapped other teachers and administrators from the American University in the last two years.

Collett was on a writing assignment for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which cares for Palestinian refugees, when he was kidnapped. On the first anniversary of his abduction, the Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Moslems that claims to hold him demanded the British government send dialysis equipment to help treat him.

The organization, believed linked with the Palestinian terrorist group led by Abu Nidal, said in a statement the equipment should be handd to Saad in Sidon .

Collett’s kidnappers have demanded the British release three Arabs convicted in London for the attempted assassination of Israeli Ambassador Shlomo Argov in June 1982. Britain has refused.

Saad said Gray conveyed the British government’s position on the demands made by Collett’s kidnappers. He did not say whether dialysis equipment would be delivered or not.

A Shiite Moslem terrorist group, Islamic Jihad, has said it kidnapped six Americans and four Frenchmen missing in Beirut since last year. In addition, four French members of a television crew disappeared in Beirut earlier this year.

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