Waite Stays in Beirut, Group Threatens Italy
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite canceled his flight home to England on Tuesday to stay in Beirut for face-to-face negotiations with kidnappers of American hostages.
He scrubbed his midmorning departure plans after returning to his hotel from a late-night meeting with Islamic Jihad, sources close to him said.
″It looked like he has had a breakthrough,″ said one source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ″He will have further meetings with the captors.″
Meanwhile, a hitherto unknown group threatened Tuesday to carry out terrorist attacks against Italy for allegedly mistreating two jailed comrades. In a typewritten statement in poor Arabic, the group, God’s Partisans, threatened to kill the Italian justice minister and the warden of Spoleto Prison, where it said the two were held; to blow up the Italian Embassy in Beirut; to kidnap Italians and to hijack Italian jetliners.
Waite, the personal emissary of the Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, appeared at 9:20 a.m. in the lobby of his seaside hotel in west Beirut’s Ein Mreisseh district.
Wearing a raincoat over his suit in sunny Beirut, the envoy rode in a jeep with three bodyguards and drove off to an undisclosed destination.
He returned two hours later and went straight up to his room, refusing to answer questions about his activities and plans.
Waite flew in last week on his fifth visit to the Lebanese capital in his quest to free foreign hostages.
Eighteen foreigners are missing and believed being held hostage in Lebanon - five Americans, six Frenchmen, two Britons, an Italian, an Irishman, a South Korean, a Saudi Arabian and a West German.
Waite said Monday he had established contact with Islamic Jihad, or Islamic Holy War, and planned to begin direct negotiations with that Shiite Moslem group. But he expressed fears he could be abducted himself.
The Anglican emissary also said he had received assurances from Islamic Jihad, which kidnapped Americans Terry A. Anderson and Thomas Sutherland, that the two were ″well looked after. Their condition is generally good.″
Waite said Monday that ″eventually the prospects are good″ for the release of Anderson, 39, the AP’s chief Middle East correspondent, and Sutherland, 55, acting dean of agriculture at the American University of Beirut.
Both men were abducted in 1985.
A sixth American, William Buckley, had been reported among the American hostages, but U.S. Vice President George Bush said Tuesday that Buckley had been tortured and killed.
Buckley, indentified in published reports as the CIA station chief in Beirut, was kidnapped on March 16,1984, and on Oct. 4, 1985, Islamic Jihad announced it had executed him.
Bush, in a speech prepared for delivery at a terrorism conference in Washington Tuesday night, did not say what government agency Buckley had worked for or say how the government was certain he was dead or give any details about his death. It is believed Buckley was killed in June 1985, but his body has never been found.
In a statement Tuesday, delivered to the office of a Western news agency in west Beirut, God’s Partisans identified the two men whose release it seeks only as Saleh and Abdullah. It gave no nationality or reason for imprisonment.
Sources in Beirut, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the pair were Abdullah Dousari and Saleh Ali Mozayyen, but they gave no details.
The statement complained that the two were being mistreated at maximum security Spoleto Prison in central Italy and demanded ″immediate improvement of our brethren’s conditions and then their release immediately afterward.″
Attached to the statement were sketches of the two men.
A prison official at Spoleto said the prison had no inmates under those names.
A check of news story files in Rome, however, disclosed that two Middle Eastern men with the same first names were arrested on May 18, 1984, at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport carrying plastic explosives hidden in their luggage. The men held Saudi passports, possibly fake.