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US Reopens File of Hezbollah's American Hostage Taking in Beirut

US Reopens File of Hezbollah's American Hostage Taking in Beirut

Sunday, 5 December, 2021 - 06:00
The national flag flies over the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, Aug. 8, 2021. (AFP)

The United States has reopened the case of the American hostage crisis during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990).

The Rewards for Justice program released a reminder of a reward of up to $5 million for information that brings to justice those responsible for these attacks.

"Numerous kidnappings and murders were a part of the decade-long Lebanese hostage crisis undertaken by Hezbollah-related terrorists. The hostage crisis lasted from 1982 to 1992," it said on its website.

"On March 16, 1984, terrorists kidnapped William Buckley, the CIA Station Chief in Beirut. Buckley was interrogated, tortured and held captive for 15 months before the estimated date of his death."

"On December 3, 1984, American University of Beirut librarian Peter Kilburn was reported missing. Sixteen months later, he and two other captives were shot and killed, their bodies dumped in the mountains east of Beirut."

"On February 17, 1988, terrorists kidnapped Col. William Higgins from his United Nations peacekeeping vehicle. As a hostage, Col. Higgins was interrogated and tortured before being killed. The exact date of his death is unknown."

Diplomatic sources in Beirut told Asharq Al-Awsat that this was not the first time such a reward has been put up.

American University of Beirut history professor Dr. Makram Rabah said that period of the civil was "very critical" because it witnessed the birth of Hezbollah.

The kidnappings during the war were carried out by various parties, such as the "Islamic Jihad" and others, he continued. Hezbollah never declared its responsibility for kidnappings.

Everyone was aware of Iran's role in the hostage-taking of foreigners, especially under the term of President Ronald Reagan, he added.

He noted the "Irangate" affair, which was an attempt by Tehran to eliminate the US role in Lebanon, whether through bombing the Marine headquarters or by taking hostages.

Rabah said it was significant that Washington is bringing up the hostage crisis again at a time when nuclear negotiations with Iran have resumed in Vienna.

Hezbollah and all other Iranian militias are not being discussed at the negotiations. Washington's terrorist designation of pro-Iran militias that are responsible for the murder of Americans, whether through kidnappings or bombings, is also not up for negotiations or discussion, added Rabah.

The 1980s were the darkest years of the Lebanese civil war. Over a hundred foreigners are estimated to have been kidnapped in Lebanon between 1982 and 1992. The majority of the victims were Americans and western Europeans. Eight victims died in captivity: some were killed and others died from lack of sufficient medical care.

An FBI report in 1994 held Hezbollah responsible for the hostage-taking of at least 44 foreigners, including 17 Americans, three of whom died in captivity.

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