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Another American Reported Seized in Lebanon; Described as Book Salesman

October 22, 1986|CHARLES P. WALLACE | Times Staff Writer

AMMAN, Jordan — An extremist group in Lebanon said Tuesday that it has kidnaped another American in West Beirut.

A statement delivered to news agencies in the Lebanese capital identified the hostage as Edward A. Tracy, 55, of Rutland, Vt. Tracy was described as an illustrator and salesman of the Koran, the Muslim holy book.

The statement, purporting to come from a group calling itself the Revolutionary Justice Organization, asserted that Tracy had spied in Lebanon for the CIA and for the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

Born in Vermont

In Washington, White House spokesman Larry Speakes said Tuesday that U.S. records indicate that Tracy is a Vermont-born American citizen who has been in Beirut for several years--perhaps since 1976--as a permanent resident.

"He has no connection with the U.S. government," Speakes said. "The allegations of his kidnapers that he works for the CIA are totally without foundation. We hold Mr. Tracy's kidnapers responsible for his safety and demand his immediate release. He is another innocent victim of terrorism in Lebanon." The Revolutionary Justice group did not say when or where Tracy was kidnaped. He apparently had not been reported missing.

Contacted by news agencies in Burlington, Vt., a nephew of the missing American said the family had not seen him since 1964. The nephew, Thomas Lambert, said Tracy is divorced, the father of two children.

Irish Catholic Family

Tracy was raised in an Irish Catholic family in Burlington but later converted to Islam, Lambert said.

Tracy's mother, Doris, said her son has spent his adult life living and traveling abroad. She said she has been troubled by "the fact that I don't know what he's doing," and added that "he never says what he's doing" in any of the more than 30 letters she has received from him during the last year.

As to his captors' charge that he is a Jewish spy, she laughed and said, "We're Irish to the bottom of our bones."

The Revolutionary Justice Organization attached a copy of Tracy's passport to its statement as evidence that it is holding him.

Link to Earlier Abduction

The same group has claimed responsibility for the abduction on Sept. 12 of Joseph Cicippio, the comptroller of the American University Hospital in Beirut, who was seized at his home on the university campus.

On Sept. 9, another radical group, the Arab Revolutionary Cells, kidnaped Frank Herbert Reed, the director of a West Beirut high school. Reed, also a convert to Islam, was also accused of spying for the CIA.

In addition, three other Americans are being held by a Shia Muslim fundamentalist group calling itself Islamic Jihad. They are Terry A. Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent of the Associated Press; David P. Jacobsen, a Huntington Beach, Calif., man who is director of the American University Hospital, and Thomas Sutherland, the dean of the university's School of Agriculture.

Captives Criticize U.S.

The Americans held by Islamic Jihad have sharply criticized the Reagan Administration for refusing to negotiate with their captors in light of the successful negotiations that freed Nicholas Daniloff, an American journalist seized in Moscow and accused of espionage.

Meanwhile, the British government announced that it was withdrawing two diplomats and three dependents from its embassy in Beirut.

"We decided that for the time being, on a temporary basis, two diplomatic members of our embassy and three wives will be leaving," a Foreign Office spokesman said. "It's the result of a reassessment of the security situation."

Fears of Retaliation

The spokesman declined to comment on speculation that the move was related to fears of retaliation against British interests in the Middle East after the trial in London of a Jordanian national who is accused of trying to plant a bomb aboard an Israeli jetliner.

A court in London has heard evidence that the Jordanian, Nezar Hindawi, received the suitcase bomb from Syrian Embassy officials in London and that he went to the Syrian Embassy in an effort to escape after the bombing attempt.

The Syrians have angrily denied the allegations.

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