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Shiite Moslem Fundamentalist Leader Denounces Kidnappings

March 24, 1985

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a Shiite Moslem cleric with reported links to the mysterious Hezbollah radical movement, issued a statement Sunday denouncing all kidnappings.

Fadlallah, regarded by many people as the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, or Party of God, said: ″As a principle, I reject kidnapping regardless of the person kidnapped.″

His statement appeared in the Beirut independent newspaper An-Nahar.

It followed the kidnappings of at least four foreigners, and possibly six, in mostly Moslem west Beirut in the past two weeks. No clues have emerged to the whereabouts of any of the victims.

The kidnap victims include American journalist, Terry A. Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent of The Associated Press; two Britons and a French diplomat. Two other French citizens are missing and feared kidnapped.

Anonymous telephone callers have claimed responsibility for all the recent kidnappings, as well as the abductions of four other Americans missing in west Beirut, in the name of a group called Jihad Islami, or Islamic Holy War.

Fadlallah has said he does not believe such a group exists.

Some observers say the name Jihad Islami may be a code word used by several anti-Western groups.

Western intelligence reports have blamed Hezbollah for devastating bomb attacks against U.S. Embassy facilities in east and west Beirut in 1983 and 1984.

An unidentified Western diplomat has been quoted in the Lebanese press as saying that Anderson, 37, born in Lorain, Ohio, and the two Britons, Geoffrey Nash and Brian Levick, had been taken to an area controlled by Hezbollah.

Fadlallah has denied he is the spiritual leader of the group, but said that various Shiite factions come to him for advice. But intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Fadlallah is indeed the spiritual leader.

On March 13, the day after a U.S. veto killed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s occupation practices in south Lebanon, Sheik Ibrahim al-Amin, a Hezbollah leader, said, ″America must leave Lebanon for good.″

Fadlallah said he has tried to rescue many kidnap victims but ″to no avail.″ He added: ″The problem is that the issue does not involve just one party, but there are many different parties.″

French Embassy Vice Consul Marcel Fontaine, 45, was kidnapped last Friday. The same day, the embassy’s protocol officer, Marcel Carton, 62, and his daughter, Mrs. Danielle Perez, 34, a secretary at the embassy, failed to report to work and were feared kidnapped.

Nash, 60, a metallurgist for the Lebanese government, was kidnapped March 14. Levick, 59, a businessman, was abducted March 15, and Anderson was seized March 16.

The four other Americans missing are U.S. Embassy political officer William Buckley, Presbyterian minister Benjamin Weir, American University of Beirut librarian Peter Kilburn, and Catholic priest Lawrence Jenco.

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