Magazine article Editor & Publisher

They're Still Hostages: Remembering Terry Anderson and Others Held in Lebanon

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

They're Still Hostages: Remembering Terry Anderson and Others Held in Lebanon

Article excerpt

They're still hostages

In a season of celebration for the freed prisoners and returning veterans of the Persian Gulf war, it is time for another sort of ceremony, a bleak one of the sixth anniversary of Terry Anderson's captivity in Lebanon.

The contrasts are jarring.

So far, American's Middle East victory does not apply to Anderson or to the other five U.S. hostages, reportedly moved by their captors from Beirut to the Baalbek area in eastern Lebanon.

The war against Iraq was won in 42 days, the ground war in 100 hours. Anderson has been held hostage for 2,187 days.

In the conflict over Kuwait, the one posted demand of his kidnappers was rendered moot. The Muslim extremists who seized Anderson on March 16, 1985, demanded the release of fellow Shiites imprisoned in Kuwait for terrorist bombings there. The last of them was freed when Iraq invaded Aug. 2.

Syria, which joined the U.S.-led coalition against Iraq, is the dominant force in Lebanon, a position strengthened during the Persian Gulf crisis. The Syrian army controls the region where the hostages are believed held by pro-Iranian Muslim factions grouped together as Hezbollah, or the Party of God. Iran remained officially neutral in the war that drove Iraq from Kuwait.

Despite their power in the region, the Syrians have avoided confrontation with Iranian-backed factions. There are said to be about 3,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops in or near Baalbek.

Secretary of State James A. Baker III visited Damascus, meeting with Syrian President Hafez Assad as part of the postwar quest for a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East.

President Bush said Baker would raise the plight of the hostages in Lebanon.

"We have not forgotten them," Bush told Congress in his March 6 victory speech. We will not forget them."

Next day at the White House, Bush's spokesman said there had to be some hope that, with all the changes in the Middle East, the captors would see the futility of continuing to hold the hostages. …

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