Lebanon hostage crisis

The Lebanon hostage crisis refers to the systematic kidnapping in Lebanon of 96 foreign hostages of 21 national origins between 1982 and 1992. The victims were mostly from Western countries, and mostly journalists, diplomats, or teachers. 25 of them were Americans, 16 were Frenchmen, 12 Britons, 7 Swiss and 7 West Germans. [source: Maskit Burgin, `Foreign Hostages in Lebanon` in Ariel Merai and Anat Kurz, International Terrorism in 1987 (Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 1988), p.70] Hala Jaber, a journalist for British newspapers estimates at least 87 foreigners were kidnapped, including 17 Americans, 14 Britons, 15 French, 7 Swiss and 7 West Germans. (Jaber, Hala. "Hezbollah : born with a vengeance", New York : Columbia University Press, c1997, p.113)] At least 10 hostages perished in captivity: some murdered, while others died from lack of adequate medical attention to illnesses. [Jaber, Hala. "Hezbollah : born with a vengeance", New York : Columbia University Press, c1997, p.113]

Those taking responsibility for the kidnapping used different names: Islamic Jihad, Organization for the Defense of Free People, Organization for the Oppressed of the Earth, Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, etc. But the testimony of former hostages indicates almost all the "groups" were actually one group of "a dozen men" came "from various ... clans" within the Hezbollah organization, "most notably the Mughniyya and Hamadi clans." ["Los Angeles Times", 26 November 1989; "Independent", 9 October 1991; and "Le Figaro", 4 December 1989] Particularly important in the organization was "master terrorist" Imad Mughniyah. [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage," 2001, p.270] Hezbollah has publicly denied involvement. ["Talks in Iran Seek to Free Hostages," "New York Times," March 17, 1991, p.18]

It is also widely believed that the Islamic Republic of Iran and to a lesser extent Syria played a major role in the kidnappings. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997)p.108]

The original reason for the hostage-taking seems to have been "as insurance against retaliation by the U.S., Syria, or any other force" against Hezbollah, which is thought responsible for the killing of 230 Americans [Rise to Globalism by Stephen Ambrose (page 312)p] in the Marine barracks and embassy bombings in Beirut. [Explained by PLO's Salah Khalef, in "Washington Post", 21 February 1987] Other reasons for the kidnappings or the prolonged holding of hostages are thought to be "primarily based on Iranian foreign policy calculations and interests" particularly the extraction of "political, military and financial concessions from the Western world," [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah" (1997), p.54] the hostage takers being strong allies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The tight security measures taken by the hostage-keepers succeeded in preventing not only Western sources but even Syrian intelligence (which helped the Western countries at times) from locating and rescuing all but a handful of hostages. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah" (1997) p.147] Frustration with the situation, along with public pressure from the media and families of the hostages led to a breakdown of the anti-terrorism principle of "no negotiations, no concessions" by American and French officials. In particular the Ronald Reagan administration in the United States negotiated a secret and illegal arms for hostage swap with Iran known as the Iran-Contra Affair.

The hostage crisis ended with the need for Western aid and investment by Syria and Iran following the end of the Iran-Iraq war and collapse of the Soviet Union, and with promises to Hezbollah that it could remain armed following the end of the Lebanese Civil War and that France and America would not seek revenge against it. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.125]


*TWA Flight 847. One of the most dramatic hostage-takings in Lebanon occurred on June 14, 1985, when TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Rome was hijacked by "Organization for the Oppressed of the Earth." Passengers underwent a three-day, convert|8300|mi|km|sing=on ordeal shuttling back and forth between Beirut and Algiers. Groups of passengers were freed over the course of event. One passenger, a U.S. Navy diver, Robert Dean Stethem, was beaten, shot and his body dumped on the runway. Another 39 passengers were held hostage in the South Beirut for two weeks, as Lebanese army troops withdrew from the Beirut airport on June 16th leaving Hezbollah and Amal militias to control the area and hold the hostages. On June 30, they were driven to Syria and released. The liberation of the hostages was followed over the next several weeks by the release of 735 Lebanese Shiite militants by Israel. Although this was one of the key demands of the hijackers, Israel maintaining the release was unconnected to the hijacking. [http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-8105.html Lebanon, the hostage crisis] ]


With the exception of a few hostages such as CIA Bureau Chief William Francis Buckley and Marine Colonel William Higgins, (who were both killed) most of the hostages were chosen not for any political activity or alleged misdeeds they had committed, but because of the country they came from and the ease of kidnapping them. Despite this, they were often treated quite cruelly, with repeated beatings and mock executions. ["Terry Anderson Looks Back, Blindfold and Chains" "New York Times", March 15, 1992, p.10]

Some of the more famous victims include:
*David S. Dodge. Perhaps the first victim whose case was widely publicized was American University of Beirut president David Dodge, abducted 19 July 1982 and freed in July 21, 1983. According to Lebanese journalist Hala Jaber, "Dodge was abducted initially by pro-Palestinian Lebanese" in hopes of pressuring the Americans to pressure Israel which had invaded Lebanon to stop Lebanon-based PLO attacks. After the PLO evacuated Lebanon, "the Iranians had taken charge of" Dodge and moved him from Beqaa valley to Tehran. The Iranians hoped to use Dodge to gain the release of three Iranian officials who had been kidnapped by Christian militia Lebanese Forces in July 1982. [Jaber, Hala. "Hezbollah : born with a vengeance", New York : Columbia University Press, c1997, p.100]

:Dodge "spent the next three months in the infamous Evin jail, where the Iranian Revolutionary Guard had executed hundreds of the Shah's followers in the wake of Khomeini's Islamic Revolution. Whenever he was interrogated, he was asked for information about the missing Iranians." [Jaber, Hala. "Hezbollah : born with a vengeance", New York : Columbia University Press, c1997, p.100]

:Dodge was released on the first anniversary of his abduction, reportedly because Syrian President Assad was "enraged by Iran's role in the abduction". Dodge "was taken out of his cell, given back the clothes he had worn on the day of his abduction, and driven back to the airport by an official of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. From there he flew first class to Syria. ... At Damascus airport his escort handed him over to a waiting car ... the following morning he was handed over to the American embassy." ["Hostage: Complete Story of the Lebanon Captives " by Con Coughlin, Time Warner, pp.36]

*Benjamin Weir. The Presbyterian minister was kidnapped in May 1984 by three armed men while strolling with his wife. Weir may have thought he was safe from harm from Muslims because he lived in Shiite West Beirut working "closely with various Muslim-oriented charity and relief groups," and had lived in Lebanon since 1958. Two days after his abduction, a telephone message claimed: "Islamic Jihad organization claims it is responsible for the abduction ... in order to renew our acceptance of Reagan's challenge [to fight "state terrorism"] and to confirm our commitment of the statement ... that we will not leave any American on Lebanese soil." [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, 2001, p.101,2,4] He was released mid-September 1985.

*Terry A. Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, was the best known, and longest held, hostage believed to be captured by Shiite Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad Organization Anderson, was seized on March 16, 1985, finally being released December 4, 1991

*Charles Glass. American television correspondent Charles Glass was seized on June 17, 1987, by a previously unknown group, the "Organization for the Defense of Free People," (believed to be one of Hezbollah's aliases) he escaped 62 days later.
*Rudolph Cordes and Alfred Schmidt, two citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) abducted in January 1987 by an organization calling itself "Strugglers for Freedom." The West Germans were seized shortly after the West German government arrested Muhammad Ali Hamadi, a Shia terrorist leader who allegedly masterminded the 1985 TWA Flight 847 hijacking and killed diver Robert Dean Stethem. Muhammad Ali Hammadi was not released at that time but was in 2006, "in an apparent exchange for a German hostage in Iraq." [ [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/09/opinion/main1190219.shtml Justice Will Be Done] ]

*Terry Waite. Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite, who disappeared January 20, 1987, while on a negotiating mission to free the other kidnap victims, spent almost five years in captivity, nearly four years of it in solitary confinement, after he was seized by Islamic Jihad from a go-between's house in Lebanon on January 20, 1987. Before his release in November 1991 he was frequently blindfolded, beaten, and subjected to mock executions. He lived much of the time chained to a radiator, suffered desperately from asthma, and was transported in a giant refrigerator as his captors moved him about. [Galenet Biography Resource Center]


*William Francis Buckley. Former CIA Bureau Chief, Beirut, taken hostage by Islamic Jihad, Mar 16, 1984. [Galenet Biography Resource Center] and held at the village of Ras al-Ein. [ [http://www.jeffreygoldberg.net/articles/tny/a_reporter_at_large_in_the_par.php In The Party Of God (Part I)] ] On October 3, 1985, the Islamic Jihad Organization claimed to have killed him. The Islamic Jihad Organization later released to a Beirut newspaper a photograph purporting to depict his corpse. Press reports stated that Buckley had been transferred to Iran, where he was tortured and killed. The National Security Council, however, believes Buckley died of poor treatment and from a pneumonia-like illness, probably on June 3, 1985. [US Security Council, "U.S./Iranian Contacts and the American Hostages" -"Maximum Version" of NSC Chronology of Events, dated November 17, 1986, 2000 Hours - Top Secret, Chronology, November 17, 1986, 12 pp. (UNCLASSIFIED) ] His remains were found in a plastic sack on the side of the road to the Beirut airport in 1991. [Gup, Ted; The Book of Honor, New York: Doubleday, 2000, p. 286. ]

*Four Soviet diplomats were kidnapped on September 30, 1985. Arkady Katkov, a consular attaché, was killed by his captors; the other three (Oleg Spirin, Valery Mirikov, and Nikolai Svirsky) were released a month later.

*Michel Seurat. On February 10, 1986, the Islamic Jihad Organization released a photograph that claimed to show the body of French sociologist Michel Seurat, who had been kidnapped earlier. On 5 March 1986 Islamic Jihad claimed it had executed the French hostage Michel Seurat. His fellow hostages revealed on their release that Seurat had died of hepatitis. [Jaber, Hala. "Hezbollah : born with a vengeance", New York : Columbia University Press, c1997, p.126]

*Peter Kilburn, John Douglas and Philip Padfield. On April 17, 1986, the bodies of these three American University of Beirut employees, American citizen Peter Kilburn and Britons John Douglas and Philip Padfield, were discovered near Beirut. The Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims claimed to have "executed" the three men in retaliation for the United States air raid on Libya on April 15, 1986.

*Another American military man killed by Hezbollah abductors was William R. Higgins. He was captured and taken hostage while serving on a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon. A year and a half after his capture, a videotape was released by his captors showing his body hanging by the neck. on December 23, 1991, his body was recovered from a Beirut street where it had been dumped.

Escaped or rescued

*Frank Regier. American citizen Frank Regier, engineering professor at the American University of Beirut, was kidnapped in Feb. 1984 when he walked off the campus grounds. He was freed after several months in captivity by Amal militiamen, who raided the Beirut hideout of his extremist captors on April 15, 1984. Islamic Jihad responded by threatening Amal. [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, 2001, p.102, 4]

*Jeremy Levin. On February 14, 1985, American journalist Jeremy Levin escaped from his captors in the Beqaa Valley. Shia militants claimed they had allowed him to escape and the U.S. publicly thanked Syria for intervening on his behalf. [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, 2001, p.102]

*Michel Brillant. On April 11, 1986, French captive Michel Brillant escaped several days after his abduction when his captors were surprised by a party of hunters in the Beqaa Valley.

*On July 16, 1986, a Saudi Arabian diplomat was freed when the Lebanese Army caught his captors.

*David Hirst. On September 26, 1986, British journalist David Hirst escaped by bolting from his captors' automobile in a Shia neighborhood of Beirut,

*Jean-Marc Sroussi several days later (from September 26, 1986) French television correspondent Jean-Marc Sroussi escaped from a locked shed days after his capture.


Many other "groups" claimed responsibility for the kidnappings while Hezbollah denied it, indignantly proclaiming in 1987:

We look with ridicule at the accusations of Hezbollah in connection with the abductions of foreign hostages. We consider that is a provocation and hold America responsible for the results. "New York Times, `Militia leaders report the arrest of Waite`, February 3, 1987, p. A3]

Nonetheless Hezbollah, sometimes described as the "umbrella group" of Shia radicalism in Lebanon, is considered by most observers to be the instigator of the crisis.

Analysis of the hostage-crisis in Lebanon yields that Hezbollah was undisputably responsible for the aforementioned abductions of Westerners despite attempts to shield its complicity through the employment of cover-names. Its organisational framework was not only sophisticated an assimilated according to Iranian clerical designs but also closely integrated with several key Iranian institutions which provided it with both necessary weaponry and training to successfully confront self-proclaimed Islamic enemies and invaluable financial support ... [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997)p.108]

Another source claims that with the exceptions of six Iranians, all the hostages appear to have been seized by "groups allied with Iran." [source: Maskit Burgin, `Foreign Hostages in Lebanon` in Anat Kurz, Ariel Merari, "International Terrorism in 1987"(Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 1988), p.70]

The two main operatives of the hostage taking are reported to be:

*Imad Mughniyah, a senior member of the Hezbollah organization, has been described by journalist Robin Wright as the "master terrorist" who organized the campaign. [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage," 2001, p.270]

*Husayn Al-Musawi (also spelled Hussayn al-Mussawi) is described by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker magazine as involved in the kidnappings, and the village of Ras al-Ein, in the Beqaa Valley of East Lebanon as a place were the victims were held. [ [http://www.jeffreygoldberg.net/articles/tny/a_reporter_at_large_in_the_par.php In The Party Of God (Part I)] ]


According to scholar Gilles Kepel "a few of the kidnappings were money-driven or linked to local concerns, but most obeyed a logic whereby Hezbollah itself was no more than a subcontractor for Iranian intiatives." [Kepel, "Jihad" (2002), p.129] Motivation for the hostage-taking includes:
*Insurance "against retaliation by the U.S., Syria or any other force" against Hezbollah, for the killing of over 300 Americans in the Marine barracks and embassy bombings in Beirut. [Explained by PLO's Salah Khalef, in "Washington Post", 21 February 1987]
*The release of three (or four) Iranian officials who had been kidnapped in July 5, 1982 by Christian militia Lebanese Forces (aka Phalangists) 25 miles north of Beirut. In December 1988, Hashemi Rafsanjani publicly addressed the Americans just before he was elected president of Iran: :

If you are interested in having your people [who are] held hostage in Lebanon released, then tell the Phalangists [Christian militia] to release our people who have been in their hands for years. [Jaber, Hala. "Hezbollah : born with a vengeance", New York : Columbia University Press, c1997, p.100]

:The Iranians included Ahmad Motevaselian, the Ba'albek commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard contingent, and Mohsen Musavi, the Iranian charge d'affairs to Lebanon. ["Middle East Reporter", 22 July 1983, 14 November 1990] (The other two Iranians were Akhaven Kazem and Taqi Rastegar Moqaddam.)

*Pro-Palestinian Lebanese believed they could use the first American hostage, David Dodge, "as a means of pressuring the American to do something about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon ..." [Jaber, Hala. "Hezbollah : born with a vengeance", New York : Columbia University Press, c1997, p.101]

*Legendary Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyah wanted to free his cousin, brother-in-law Mustafa Badreddin, one of the "Kuwait 17" (the 17 imprisoned perpetrators of the 1983 Kuwait Bombing). [ [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r101:S25JY0-B485: Bombs, Hostages: A Family Link] , Washington Post, July 24, 1990.] :The hostage in captivity the longest, Terry Anderson, was told that he and the other hostages had been abducted to gain the freedom of their seventeen comrades in Kuwait convicted of perpetrating the 1983 Kuwait Bombing of six key foreign and Kuwaiti installations, "what might have been the worst terrorist attack of the century had the bombs' rigging not been faulty." [Jaber, Hala. "Hezbollah : born with a vengeance", New York : Columbia University Press, c1997, p.127-9]

*Another of the Kuwait 17, Hussein al-Sayed Yousef al-Musawi, was the first-cousin to Husayn Al-Musawi, leader of Islamic Amal, a sister militia to Hezbollah that was later merged with Hezbollah. [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.91]

*Islamist Shia wanted to use French hostages to free Annis Naccache, who was the leader of the Iranian backed assassination team attempting to kill former Iranian Premier Shapour Bakhtiar. Naccache was a Christian Lebanese who had converted to Islam and pledged allegiance to Khomeini following the success of the revolution. He was a "close personal friend" of "Ahmad Khomeini, son of the Iranian revolutionary" leader, "Mohasen Rafiqust, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp commander in Lebanon," and of the aforementioned Hezbollah operative Imad Mughniya. [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.95] They appear to have been completely successful in their efforts.


On 18 July 1980, Naccache was arrested for the attempted to kill Bakhtiar. A gendarme and a bystander were killed in the subsequent battle with the police. Naccache and three others were given life sentences ... Naccache's release later became a condition for freeing the Western hostages in Lebanon. [Jaber, Hala. "Hezbollah : born with a vengeance", New York : Columbia University Press, c1997, p.127]
Naccache was freed "on 27 July 1990, together with four accomplices, after being pardoned by President Francois Mitterand. All five men were put on a plane bound for Tehran. The deal also brought political, military and financial benefits to Iran itself: the release of its frozen assets and desperately needed spare parts for their armaments. The French also kicked out most of the Iranian opposition leaders who had taken sanctuary in their country following the revolution."

:French hostages were released by kidnappers at the same time. France denied reports that they had made a deal. [Jaber, Hala. "Hezbollah : born with a vengeance", New York : Columbia University Press, c1997, p.127]


By 1991 radical Shia operatives imprisoned in Europe had been freed. Islamic Dawa party members convicted of terrorism in Kuwait had been freed by Iraqi Invasion. There was no need to pressure Western supporters of the Iraq because Iran-Iraq War was over. It was pretty well established that the four missing Iranians were no longer alive. ["Hostages Fate Linked to Four Missing Iranians," "New York Times", November 23, 1990, p. A11]

More importantly Iran was in need of foreign investment "to repair its economy and infrastructure after the destruction of the Iran-Iraq War, and Syria needed to "consolidation of its hegemony over Lebanon" and obtain to Western aid to compensate for the loss of Soviet support following the collapse of the Soviet Union. [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.125] Syria was actively pressuring Hezbollah to stop the abductions and a February 1987 attack by Syrian troops in Beirut that killed 23 members of Hezbollah was in part an expression of Syrian irritation with the continued hostage-taking. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997) p.100] Hezbollah had guarantees from Syria that despite the end of the Lebanese Civil War, it would be allowed to remain armed, while all other Lebanese militias would be disarmed, on the grounds that Hezbollah needed its weapons to fight Israeli occupation in the South. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.191]

This combination of factors created a setting whereby UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar and his personal envoy, Giandomenico Picco (served on the Board of Governmental Relations for the American Iranian Council), could negotiate "a comprehensive resolution to the hostage-crisis." Hezbollah by December 1991, Hezbollah had released the last hostage in return for Israel's release of imprisoned Shi'ites. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.167]



*1982 July 19 - Abduction: First Westerner abducted is David Dodge, the acting president of the American University of Beirut (AUB) (American).
Suggested motivation: the abduction of David Dodge came directly in response to the previous kidnapping of four employees of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut by the Israeli-backed Phalangist militia on July 5, 1982." [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon" (1997), p.88-89] Dodge was the most prominent American citizen in Lebanon next to the U.S. Ambassador.
Declared abductor: Islamic Jihad Organization.
Alleged abductor: "it seems clear that the abduction of David Dodge was initiated by the Pasdaran contingent in Lebanon .... the operation was executed by Husayn al-Musawi's Islamic Amal." [ "Middle East Reporter" 22 July 1983]


*1982 July 21 - Release: David Dodge


*1984 February 11 - Abduction: Frank Regier, engineering professor at the AUB (American) and Christian Joubert (French) [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.92]
Suggested motivation: 25 arrested in Kuwait in wake of Dec. 1983 multiple terrorist attacks. three are Lebanese Shi'ites.

*1984 March (late) - Abduction: Jeremy Levin, Bureau chief of Cable News Network (American), and William Buckley "diplomat" actually Station chief, Central Intelligence Agency (American).

*1984 March 27 - Sentencing: Kuwait's State Security Court sentence Elias Fouad Saab to death, ... while Hussein al-Sayed Yousef al-Musawi receive life-imprisonment and Azam Khalil Ibrahim receives 15 years imprisonment.
Hezbollah threatens to kill hostages if bombers are executed. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.92]

*1984 April 15 - Release: Frank Regier by Amal militiamen, who raided the Beirut hideout of his captors.
*1984 May - Abduction: Presbyterian minister Benjamin Weir (American).
Suggested motivation: another effort to pressure Kuwait to accede to its demands of freedom or leniency for the prisoners. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.92]
Declared abductor: "Islamic Jihad organization."

*1984 December 3 - Abduction: Peter Kilburn.
Alleged abductor: "appears to have been perpetrated by Islamic Amal with close Iranian involvement." (p.93)


*1985 January 3 - Abduction: Eric Wehrli, Swiss charge d'affairs in Lebanon [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.92]

*1985 January 7 - Release: Eric Wehrli.
Suggested motivation: "evidence suggests that Hezbollah deliberately targeted Wehrli in order to obtain the release of Hosein al-Talaat, Hezbollah member arrested at Zurich airport on December 18, 1984 with explosives in his possession intended for an attack on the American embassy in Rome. Jerusalem Post, 8 January 1985 and E. Buchler, Terrorismus in de Schweiz: Waffen- und Sprengstoffbeschaffung fur den Interationalen Terrorismus?` "Semiarabeit" MSII/86, Zurich 1986: p.24-5]

*1985 January 8 - Abduction: Lawrence Jenco, Director, Catholic Relief Services charitable organization (American).
Declared abductor: "Islamic Jihad Organization".

*1985 March - Abduction: Geoffrey Nash and Brian Lebick (both British).
Suggested motivation: retaliation for March 8, 1985 unsuccessful assassination attempt on Sheikh Fadlallah.

*1985 March/April - Release: Geoffrey Nash and Brian Lebick, two weeks after abduction.
Suggested motivation: "seems to indicate that their abduction had been made on the mistaken assumption that they were American citizens." [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.94]

*1985 March 18 - Abduction: Terry A. Anderson Chief Middle East correspondent, Associated Press (American)
Suggested motivation: in retaliation for Fadlallah bombing and UNSC veto by US of resolution condemning Israel's military practices in occupied southern Lebanon. [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.94]
Declared abductor: "Islamic Jihad Organization."

*1985 March 22 - Abduction: three French embassy employees.
Suggested motivation: "considerations more aligned with Iran's foreign policy, most notably related to Frances continued arms shipments to Iraq and outstanding financial debt to Iran ... [and] as a response to the presence of the French UNIFIL contingent in southern Lebanon and its perceived practice of failing to provide adequate protection to the local Shi'ite population." [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.94]

*1985 May 20 - Release: Husayn Farrash, Saudi Arabian consul Husayn Farrash released by captors after over a year in captivity.

*1985 May 22 - Abduction: French journalist Jean-Paul Kaufmann and French sociologist Michel Seurat.
Suggested motivation: part of effort to obtain the release of Anis Naccache, imprisoned in France for the attempted assassination of the Shah's former Prime Minister Shapour Bakthiar in Paris in July 1980. "Liberation," 5 June 1985] ["Le Matin", 29 January 1987] [Ha'aretz, 30 January 1987] and [Ma'aretz, 8 May 1988] Naccache was "head of the Iranian assassination team and ... close personal friend... with both Ahmad Khomeini, son of the Iranian revolutionary" leader "and Mohasen Rafiqust, IRGC commander in Lebanon," and was a "close personal" friend of Imad Mughniya. [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.95]

*1985 June(?) - Abduction: Americans David Jacobsen, American University of Beirut hospital administrator, and Thomas Sutherland, agronomist ["New York Times" January 1987]
Suggested motivation: "Hezbollah focused its efforts on the release of 766 mainly Lebanese Shi'ites transferred to Israel in conjunction with it withdrawal from Lebanon, through the abduction of mainly American citizens, ... This was revealed most clearly by the [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.95]
Declared abductor: "Islamic Jihad Organization."

*1985 June 14 - Hijacking and abduction: TWA flight 847. Done immediately following the completion of Israel's departure from Lebanon.
Suggested motivation: release of 766 mainly Lebanese Shi'ites transferred to Israel in conjunction with it withdrawal from Lebanon [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.95]

*1985 August - clandestine policy of providing armaments to Iran via Israel (aka Iran-Contra Affair) initiated by U.S. government. [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.119]

*1985 mid-September - Release: Reverend Benjamin Weir, held hostage since May 1984 is freed by the "Islamic Jihad Organization".

*1985 September 30 - Abduction: four Soviet diplomats.
Declared abductor: "Islamic Liberation Organization."


*1986 March 3 - Abduction: Marcel Coudry and a French four-man Antenne-2 television crew.
Suggested direct motivation: retaliation for decision by France to expel two exiled members of al Dawa al-Islamiyya [Fawzy Harmza and Hassan Kheir al-Din] to Iraq. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.96]
Other possible motivations: "Iraq owed $7 billion to France and absorbed almost 40% of all French arms export. Between 1977 and 1985, France sold more than $11.8 billion of high-technology weaponry to Iraq, including 113 Mirage F1 fighter aircraft and 3/4 of French total exports of Exocet missiles. ["Wall Street Journal", 21 May 1987] At the same time, Iran was particularly angered over the refusal by the French government to pay between $1-1.5 billion owed from the days of the Shah and supply Iran with military-related equipment." [source ftnt43: For Iranian claims, see: ["Kayhan", 12 March 1983] and ["Ettela'at", 23 August 1983] [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.116-7]
Declared abductor: "Revolutionary Justice Organisation". ["New York Times", March 19, 1987. A9]

*1986 April 16 (?) - Abduction: British citizens John McCarthy and Brian Keenan
Motivation: reprisal for the American raid on Libya. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.98]
Suggested motivation for keeping them: demands for the release by Israel of 260 Shiites held in al-Khaim prison in South Lebanon and the release of the three Iranian hostages taken in 1982. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.98]

*1986 April 17 Killed: Bodies of three American University of Beirut employees: Britons John Douglas and Philip Padfield and American Peter Kilburn, discovered near Beirut.
Declared motivation: The "Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims" claims to have "executed" the three men in retaliation for the United States air raid on Libya on April 15, 1986.

*1986 May 7 - Abduction: Camilli Sontag Frenchman in Lebanon (accompanied by "more importantly through the initiation of an armed campaign against the French UNIFIL contingent in southern Lebanon.
Alleged motivation: "Iranian demands for the withdrawal of UNIFIL and abrogation of UNSCR 425." [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.97]

*1986 June - Release: two French hostages in June 1986.
Alleged motivation: The expulsion of Iranian dissident Mahmoud Rajavi from France by French government in compliance with captors demands.

*1986 July 26 - Release: Lawrence Martin Jenco.

*1986 September 9, - Abduction: Frank Reed, Director, Labanese International School (American)
*1986 September 12 - Abduction: Joseph Ciccipio, Acting controller, American University of Beirut (American)
*1986 October 21 - Abduction: Edward Tracy, Writer (American) [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.98]
Alleged motivation: "replace American hostages released by the arms-for-hostages deals of the so-called Iran-Contra Affair," and undermine the arms-for-hostages deal [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.98-9]

*1986 November 2 - Release: David Jacobsen after more than a year and a half in captivity.

*1986 November 3 - Revelation: Iran-Contra arms-for-hostage deal with Iran by Lebanese newspaper, "Al-Shiraa", which reports US sold arms to Iran. [ [http://www.schule.de/englisch/state_of_the_union/group7/project/timeline.htm#tl86 The Iran-Contra Time Line] ]

*1986 November - Release: three more French hostages." [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.162]
Alleged motivation: the release by France of $330 million of the $1 billion loan to Iran [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.162]


*1987 January - Abduction: Unprecedented number of abductions of foreigners by the Hezbollah organisation. (p.99)
Declared motivation: `The hostages will perish in case of any military attempts against Muslims in the area and especially in Lebanon.` (US Navy warships in Mediterranean reportedly moving towards Lebanon.) ["New York Times", `Militia leaders report the arrest of Waite`, February 3, 1987, p.A3]
Alleged motivation: directly in response to the arrest of three leading Hezbollah member in Europe." [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.99]
Another alleged motivation: "clerical factionalism in Iran" in the aftermath of the Iran-Contra deal. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.99]
Still another alleged motivation: Demand for the return of 400 Shi'ite and Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

*1987 January 24 - Abducted: Three American and one Indian Professors from Beirut University College in West Beirut: Alan Steen, Jesse Turner, Robert Polhill, Mithal Eshwar Singh ["New York Times", January 25, 1987, March 19, 1987. A9, September 28, 1988. A9]
Declared abductor: "Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine." ["New York Times", March 19, 1987. A9, September 28, 1988. A9]

*1987 January - Abduction: West German citizens Rudolph Cordes and Alfred Schmidt.
Alleged motivation: retaliation for "the arrest of Mohammad Ali Hamadi in Frankfurt by West German authorities." [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.98]

*1987 January 13 - Abduction: Frenchman Roger Auque.
Alleged motivation: Appears to have been "related to the previous day's arrest of Bashir Al-Khodour in Milan by Italian authorities," [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.99]

*1987 January 20 - Abduction: Terry Waite. Waite, Anglican mediator negotiating independently to free captive Westerners, disappears January 20 on his fifth mission to Lebanon. "New York Times", `Militia leaders report the arrest of Waite`, February 3, 1987 p.A3]
Alleged motivation: "mainly a consequence of his inability to affect the fate of the imprisoned 17 al-Dawa prisoners in Kuwait." [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.99]

*1987 June 17 - Abduction: Charles Glass, American television correspondent.
Declared abductor: previously unknown group, the "Organization for the Defense of Free People."


*1988, February 17 - Abduction: Lt. Col William Higgins, American Chief of the UN Truce and Supervision Organisation's observer group in Lebanon (UNTSO)
Suggested motivation: Stop UNIFIL from interfering in Hezbollah's armed attacks against the Israeli occupation of the south.
Suggested motivation: Show solidarity with the revival of Islamic fundamentalism within the Palestinian intifada [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.102]


*1989 Mid - Killing: Video of U.S Marine Lt. Col William Higgins, American Chief of the UNTSO being hanged distributed to press. Declared dead on July 6, 1990.
Alleged motivation: challenge to Amal militia's authority to maintain a stable security environment in southern Lebanon, Amal being the leading militia there. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah", (1997), p.100]
Alleged motivation: to sabotage the rapprochement between Syria and the American administration [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah", (1997), p.124]
Further alleged motivation: retaliation for kidnapping of Sheikh Obeid, senior Hezbollah cleric and regional military commander of the Islamic Resistance, by elite Israeli military units in July 28, 1989 [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah", (1997), p.144]
Another motivation: to help "Iranian radicals, most notably Mohtashemi", derail attempts to improve the U.S.-Iranian relationship. [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.146]

*1989 May - Abduction: British citizen Jack Mann
Declared abductor: previously unknown group, the "Cells for Armed Struggle" ["Briton in Lebanon Reported Dead", "New York Times", September 9, 1989, p.2]
Suggested motivation: retaliation against the UK government for providing Salman Rushdie with refuge and protection after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa death threat against Rushdie for the publication of book the Satanic Verses. [Ranstorp, , "Hizb'allah in Lebanon", (1997), p.103]


*1991 October-December - Release: Jesse J. Turner, Joseph J. Cicippio, Thomas Sutherland, Alan Steen, Terry Waite. [ [http://www.schule.de/englisch/state_of_the_union/group7/project/timeline.htm#tl86 The Iran-Contra Time Line] ]
*1991 December 4 - Release: last American hostage Terry Anderson.
Suggested motivation: Part of Hezbollah "volteface," and entering into a new era where it participates in Lebanese democratic process while continuing its fight against Israel. [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah", (1997), p.105]

*1991 December (late) - Return: bodies of William Buckley and Lt. Col. William Higgins found [Ranstorp, "Hizb'allah", (1997), p.107] dumped on Beirut streets.


*June 17, 1992: Two German relief workers held since 1989, Thomas Kemptner and Heinrich Struebig, are released. They were the last Western hostages in Lebanon. ["Two German Hostages are Freed in Beirut and Fly Home", "New York Times", June 18, 1992, p.A3]

ee also

*Foreign hostages in Afghanistan
*Foreign hostages in Iraq
*1983 Beirut barracks bombing



*Jaber, Hala. "Hezbollah : born with a vengeance", New York : Columbia University Press, c1997
*Ranstorp, Magnus, "Hizb'allah in Lebanon : The Politics of the Western Hostage Crisis", New York, St. Martins Press, 1997
*Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, 2001

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