YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

A Reply From a TWA Hostage

July 14, 1985

It's Sunday (July 7), one week after a schoolyard scene in South Beirut. I've just finished reading the Letters to The Times. Every letter tends toward a black-and-white problem or answer when there is so vast a gray area.

First, a man who boarded the 727 during the second landing at Beirut, eloquent with fluid English, stated he was "the boss." His group had no orders from anyone. They are a part of "Jihad," holy war. They were prepared to die to accomplish their end. He saw no distinction between Israel and the U.S. government--"same thing," he said.

In reply to Mitzi S. Matus' letter, the sailor was beaten, first to get a message to airport ground people that they were desperate. He was killed when a demand for fuel was not being met. Second, he was chosen because he was a serviceman and therefore representative of U.S. government. They consistently separated people from government.

In reply to Bernard Bloom, the 760-odd Lebanese held in Alit have never had charges filed against them or else the release, already started, would not have taken place except for Israeli law, which required filing of charges or release by July 3. My Webster's defines hostage as "a person kept or given as a pledge for the fulfillment of certain agreement." Radio Israel consistently stated that these people would be released when certain Israeli border conditions where achieved, i.e. hostages held to prevent attacks.

For the letters about Allyn Conwell, again there are huge areas of gray where people try to define a black-and-white border. Although I would not have considered it, his carrying of prayer beads and a Koran may have provided him with some of the solace so desperately searched for by most of the hostages.

The articles (Opinion, July 7) by Lally Weymouth, Geoffrey Kemp, Bruce Hoffman and Martin E. Marty are excellent, taken for part of the whole. It was and is a vast gray area that so many are attempting to define a finite boundary to. My previous finite line defined by ignorance, prejudice and disinterest has become like the California coastal fog here in the Conejo Valley this morning, gray and out of focus. I could go on like this for many columns.


Newbury Park

Former hostage Murry wrote this letter with a pen given to him by the International Red Cross in that Beirut schoolyard.

Los Angeles Times Articles