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Terrorists Say They Hanged 4th Briton, Show Videotape : Call Death of Newsman Retaliation

April 23, 1986|Associated Press

BEIRUT — The Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims said today that it has killed kidnaped British journalist Alec Collett. The group released a videotape showing a man dangling from a scaffold and said it was the New York-based writer.

The four-minute tape was provided to the independent Beirut newspaper An-Nahar along with a typewritten Arabic statement that the 64-year-old Collett was "executed" April 16 in retaliation for Britain's complicity in the U.S. air attack on Libya.

Collett, who was on a writing assignment for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees when he was kidnaped, would be the fourth Briton slain while hostage in Lebanon.

The hanged man, wearing a black eye mask, bore a strong resemblance to Collett's photographs that were released by the United Nations upon his abduction south of Beirut on March 25, 1985.

Strikingly Alike

The jaws, long nose and slightly balding head were strikingly alike. The man's hands were tied behind him.

But viewers of the tape could not see how many fingers the body had. Collett's daughter, Suzie Grant, said in London last week that her father had only nine.

Grant's statement about her father's fingers had cast doubt on the identity of a body found east of Beirut last week, because the body had 10 fingers.

That body was initially identified as Collett's but was later identified as that of kidnaped American librarian Peter Kilburn. Collett's son David, who lives in Los Angeles, said at the time that he nevertheless believed his father also had been killed.

3 Others Died

The bodies of two kidnaped Britons, Leigh Douglas and Philip Padfield, were found with Kilburn's last Thursday. Last May, another Briton, teacher Dennis Hill, was found shot dead two days after disappearing in West Beirut.

The killings last week were claimed by the Arab Revolutionary Cells, a group believed linked to renegade Palestinian leader Abu Nidal. The Reagan Administration has charged Libya with harboring Abu Nidal.

The Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims, which also is believed affiliated with Abu Nidal, made a simultaneous claim to An-Nahar last Thursday that it had killed Collett. At the time, it promised to provide photographs of his hanging later.

An-Nahar's editors said the videotape and statement were found today inside an envelope dropped by an unknown man at the ground-floor reception desk of the newspaper's nine-story offices.

The first part of the videotape showed an empty noose swaying over green grass and scattered rocks while a man's voice read the text of the organization's statement.

Lifeless Body

When the recital ended, the lifeless body appeared on the screen dangling from a noose as a crowd could be heard--but not seen--chanting "Allah Akbar" (God is great).

The body was dressed in loose blue denims, a red-and-white checked shirt and a khaki jacket.

The voice of the man who read the statement shouted: "Down with American and British arrogance! Long live our Arab and Islamic nation!" The crowd repeated the same slogan twice after him.

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