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‘Part of my life that disappeared’: The kidnapping of Terry from the flat downstairs

December 1991: Robert Fisk celebrates the release of his friend, hostage Terry Anderson

Saturday 19 June 2021 21:30
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<p>Former US hostage Terry Anderson and his fiancée Madeleine Bassil arrive at John F Kennedy Airport on 10 December 1991</p>

Former US hostage Terry Anderson and his fiancée Madeleine Bassil arrive at John F Kennedy Airport on 10 December 1991

In the hours after Terry Anderson’s abduction, his driver, Muhieddin Habbal, and I had travelled all the way to Baalbek in the Bekaa valley where we guessed – correctly – he would be taken by his kidnappers.

We handed out his photograph to militiamen, shopkeepers, gunmen, Syrian soldiers and Islamic extremists. If his captors brought him this way, maybe the checkpoints would recognise a drugged Terry in the back seat, or demand to open the boot of every car. It was ridiculous, of course. Years later, I learnt I had given his picture to one of his kidnappers, earnestly entreating the stunned man to find my friend.

The photograph showed the tough, courageous Terry I knew so well; tiny eyes through frameless spectacles, brisk moustache and thick black hair, a retired United States marine who had served in Vietnam – a curriculum vitae we tried hard to keep from the kidnappers.

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