American journalist Terry A. Anderson, longest-held of the 16 Western hostages in Lebanon, begins his fifth year of captivity today, and on Wednesday his sister and a former hostage in Lebanon called for renewed attention to the plight of the remaining hostages and urged reconciliation with Iran.
Peggy Say said she fears that prospects for her brother's release have worsened because his captors, pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim extremists, are angry about the publication of Salman Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses," which they consider blasphemous.
"Every event that takes place in the Middle East has the potential effect," Say said. "Hostages have died. Hostages have been executed. So when things happen, the families are in an immediate panic."
She and Father Lawrence M. Jenco, a hostage who was released in 1986, were interviewed on Cable News Network's Los Angeles-based talk show "Sonya." It was part of a series of appearances leading up to today's four-year anniversary of the day Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, was kidnaped in Beirut.
Say said the "right thing" is for the Bush Administration to open a dialogue with Iran and to seek reconciliation.
A key element for the Americans' release would be a decision by the United States to unfreeze Iranian assets from arms sales to the deposed Shah of Iran, said Jenco.
In the last message his captors allowed him to send--a brief videotape on Oct. 31, four days after his 41st birthday--Anderson said, "I find it difficult to keep my hopes and my courage high."