Kidnappers Issue Photos Of Latest American Hostages
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ A terrorist group today released photographs of two American hostages, and in a separate statement threatened to ″punish″ all participants of an Islamic summit to be held next week in Kuwait.
The independent an-Nahar newspaper said its offices in west Beirut received the photographs of Joseph Cicippio and Edward Tracy at dawn in an envelope that carried the name of the Revolutionary Justice Organization. It said the pictures were not accompanied by any statement or demands.
″I think it’s a very good sign,″ said Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite on the sixth day of a mission to Moslem west Beirut to try to free American and other foreign hostages held in Lebanon.
″They (Cicippio and Tracy) are alive and I’m pleased that there’s this development,″ Waite told reporters after a 30-minute meeting with Education Minister Salim Hoss, a Sunni Moslem, at his west Beirut residence.
There was no indication of a link between the pictures’ release and Waite’s mission.
The pictures showed Cicippio and Tracy from the waist up wearing track suits and facing the camera. Cicippio, wearing spectacles, had a bushy black beard grown in captivity. The white-haired Tracy had a smaller beard.
Revolutionary Justice is believed made up of Shiite Moslem zealots loyal to Iran’s revolutionary patriarch, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Waite’s previous contacts have been confined to Islamic Jihad, another pro- Iranian Shiite faction that claims to hold two American and three French hostages.
Islamic Jihad, whose name means Islamic Holy War, issued a statement Friday threatening to launch attacks in Kuwait if an Islamic summit conference is held on schedule there Jan. 26.
The statement was accompanied by a black-and-white photograph of American hostage 39-year-old Terry Anderson, Chief Middle East Correspondent for The Associated Press. He was kidnapped March 16, 1985.
The terrorists also claim to hold Thomas Sutherland, 55, of Fort Collins, Colo., AUB’s acting dean of agriculture. He was abducted June 9, 1985.
Revolutionary Justice, in a statement issued to a Western news agency in west Beirut today, joined Islamic Jihad in denouncing plans to hold the summit in Kuwait next week, and threatened to ″punish all participants at the proper time.″
Cicippio, 56, acting comptroller at the American University of Beirut, was kidnapped from the AUB campus Sept.12. He comes from Valley Forge, Penn.
Revolutionary Justice claimed responsibility for his abduction and said Oct. 21 it had also kidnapped Tracy, 56, formerly of Burlington, Vt., a self- styled author of children’s books.
The group claimed it kidnapped the two Americans because they allegedly spied for the United States and Israel.
Revolutionary Justice also claims to hold Jean-Louis Normandin, 35, a lighting engineer with France’s Antenne-2 television network. He was kidnapped March 8.
The group has never been involved in any known negotiations with Waite, who arrived in Beirut Monday on his fifth visit since November 1985.
Iran has declared it will boycott the summit of the 46-nation Organization of Islamic Conference if it was held in Kuwait, which it charged was biased in favor of Iraq in the 6-year-old Gulf war. Kuwait has repeatedly declared its neutrality in the conflict.
Waite, the personal emissary of Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, had met with several Moslem religious and militia leaders. But escorts in charge of his security said he has not established contact with any kidnapping faction.
His mission has been beset by the abduction of Saudi Arabian embassy employe Bakr Damanhouri a few hours after Waite’s arrival from London and French photo-reporter Roger Auque, 31, of Lille Tuesday. In all, there are 18 foreigners missing in Lebanon including six Americans, six Frenchmen, two Britons, an Italian, a South Korean, an Irishman and a Saudi Arabian.