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Hostage to Answer Reagan, Jihad Says : Anderson Not Forced to Criticize Administration, Group Declares

November 04, 1988|United Press International

BEIRUT — The kidnapers of Terry A. Anderson said today that the American hostage will respond to President Reagan's charge that Anderson was forced to criticize the U.S. Administration in a videotaped message this week.

Islamic Jihad, a group that has held Anderson hostage in Lebanon for more than three years along with another American, said in a statement released to international news agencies that the message was composed by Anderson.

Anderson's taped message, released Monday, criticized the Reagan Administration, saying it has obstructed his release several times and has shown more concern for three whales trapped in the ice off Alaska than for the plight of the hostages.

At one point Anderson said: "I've been very close to being released several times over the past two years. But each time it seems that the U.S. government uses its influence to stop any agreement from being made. And I don't understand this."

Reagan denied that the United States is blocking Anderson's release and charged that the hostage was forced to read the videotaped message written by his captors.

Today's statement, attached to a color Polaroid photograph of Anderson facing a birthday cake, said the captive "will have an appropriate response to Reagan's allegations," hinting that the group will release another videotape soon.

"The videotape, regardless of its content, was issued by Terry Anderson directly without any pressure and as a result of written and televised messages that were sent out to him," the statement said.

Abducted in 1985

Anderson, 41, a native of Batavia, N.Y., and chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, was abducted March 16, 1985, in Muslim West Beirut.

The group also holds Thomas Sutherland, 56, dean of the American University of Beirut Agricultural School, kidnaped June 9, 1985.

Islamic Jihad warned in a statement Oct. 23 that the United States' "continued support for Israel will reflect negatively on the fate of the hostages we hold."

A senior Shia Muslim clergyman said in a statement broadcast on Iranian television late Thursday and published by the Lebanese newspapers An Nahar and Al Anwar today that the threats should be taken seriously.

Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the spiritual leader of the Iranian-inspired Hezbollah group, said in the statement that "Israeli air raids into Lebanon have obstructed efforts to release foreign hostages."

"Islamic Jihad is serious about its threats to hurt the American captives in revenge for the raids," Fadlallah said. "Israel's bombings of Lebanon complicated the matter of releasing the hostages," he said.

Anderson and Sutherland are among nine Americans and five other foreigners allegedly held in the densely populated southern suburbs of Beirut--a hotbed of pro-Iranian fundamentalists.

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