Callers Say Islamic Jihad Will Kill Two French Hostages
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Telephone callers claiming to speak for Shiite Moslem kidnappers said Friday that the pro-Iranian militants will kill two French diplomat-hostage s because France broke relations with Iran.
But French Embassy spokesman Gerard Boivineau said he doubted the calls were authentic because the callers did not say they would provide a picture of a captive.
″It has been decided to carry out immediately the death sentence against Marcel Carton and Marcel Fontaine,″ calls to two Western news agency offices in Moslem west Beirut said. The callers claimed to speak for Islamic Jihad, or Islamic Holy War.
Carton, 63, protocol officer at the French Embassy, and Fontaine, 46, the vice consul, were abducted separately in west Beirut on March 22, 1985.
It was not clear whether the same person called both agencies. The statements, in classical Arabic, were almost identical.
The calls said the telephone was used because Syrian secret servicemen had been placed around Western news agency offices in west Beirut.
Islamic Jihad, which had claimed it abducted Carton and Fontaine, has said its statements should not be considered authentic unless they are accompanied by a photograph of a hostage.
Islamic Jihad is believed made up of Shiite extremists loyal to Iran’s revolutionary patriarch Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The midafternoon calls came hours after the government in Paris announced France was severing diplomatic ties with Iran. Iran had refused to allow French police to question an Iranian Embassy employee about bombings that killed 11 people in Paris last September.
Islamic Jihad had not issued any communique since Syria deployed 7,500 troops in west Beirut on Feb. 22 to quell fighting among militias.
Its last previous statement on Nov. 15, 1986, warned the United States that it would free no American hostages.
That statement was accompanied by a picture of American hostage Terry A. Anderson, 39, the chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press.
Anderson, abducted March 16, 1985, has been held the longest among the 25 foreigners missing and believed kidnapped in Lebanon. In addition, Anglican Church hostage-negotiator Terry Waite also vanished in Beirut last January.
Friday’s statements began with an identical verse of the Koran, Islam’s holy book. They accused French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac of deciding to cut off relations with Iran to further his presidential prospects.
″After the provocative and escalating step taken by America’s agent and presidential aspirant, Chirac, against the Islamic Republic, thinking he will win over French public opinion in the coming elections, we inform him the following,″ the statement to one news agency said.
″Firstly: his decision will sharpen the Moslems’ determination to continue the struggle against American imperialism and European derivatives, especially the French.
″Secondly: it has been decided to carry out immediately the death sentence against Marcel Carton and Marcel Fontaine.″
The statement to the other news service said ″we have decided″ instead of ″it has been decided″ to carry out the death sentence. It also referred to the hostages as ″Marcel Carton and his collegue Marcel Fontaine.″ The rest was identical.
Islamic Jihad claimed March 5, 1986, that it killed another French hostage, research analyst Michel Seurat, 39, nearly 10 months after his abduction. No body was found.
Other kidnapped Frenchmen still missing were journalist Jean-Paul Kauffmann, 39: Jean-Louis Normandin, 35, lighting engineer from a French television news crew; and Roger Auque, a free-lance reporter-photographer.
Islamic Jihad said on Oct. 4, 1986, that it had killed American hostage William Buckley, 57. No body was found, but Vice President George Bush confirmed Buckley’s death.
Missing foreigners include nine Americans, six Frenchmen, two Britons, two West Germans, an Italian, an Irishman, a South Korean, an Indian and two unidentified men.