Terry Anderson, Reporter Held Hostage for Six Years, Dies at 76


American journalist Terry Anderson was finally released by Islamist militants in 1991 after more than six years in captivity, making him the longest-held Western hostage in Lebanon. died at home in Greenwood Lake. He is 76 years old.

The cause was apparently complications from recent heart surgery, said his daughter, Sulome Anderson.

On March 16, 1985, Mr. Anderson, the Beirut bureau chief of the Associated Press, had just dropped off his tennis partner and AP photographer at home after an early morning tennis match when a man with a pistol suddenly opened the door. His car door, put him into a Mercedes-Benz. The same car had tried to cut him off the day before as he was returning to work from lunch at his beachfront apartment.

His kidnappers, Shiite Hezbollah militants from the Lebanese Islamic Jihad group, beat him, blindfolded him and locked him in about 20 hideouts in Beirut, southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley for 2,454 days.

The Iran-backed militants said they were retaliating for Israel’s earlier use of U.S. weapons against Muslim and Druze targets in Lebanon. They also had been trying to pressure the Reagan administration to secretly facilitate illegal arms sales to Iran—an embarrassing plan that came to be known as the “Iran-Contra Affair” because of the Reagan administration’s plan to use proceeds from the arms sales to secretly Subsidizing right-wing countries.

Mr Anderson was the last of 18 hostages released by the kidnappers. After his release, he married his fiancé, who was pregnant when he was abducted, and met his 6-year-old daughter for the first time.

He said that while he was not tortured in captivity, he was beaten and chained. He said he was held in solitary confinement on and off for about a year.

“There was nothing to hold on to, nothing to stabilize my mind,” he said after the ordeal. “I tried to pray every day, sometimes for hours. But there was nothing there, just a blank space. I was talking to myself, not to God.

However, he found some comfort in the Bible, adding: “The only real defense is to remember that no one can take away my self-respect and dignity – only I can do that.”

Terry Alan Anderson was born on October 27, 1947, in Lorain, Ohio. His father, Glen, was a local rural police officer. When he was young, the family moved to Batavia in western New York, where his father drove a truck and his mother, Lily (Lunn) Anderson, worked as a waitress.

After high school, he was accepted into the University of Michigan on a scholarship, but decided to join the Marine Corps. He spent five years as a war correspondent in Japan, Okinawa and Vietnam, and spent his final year as a recruiter in Iowa.

After his discharge, he earned degrees in journalism and political science from Iowa State University while working at local television.

He worked for the Associated Press in Japan and South Africa before starting in Lebanon in 1983 for two and a half years.

After his release, he owned a blues bar in Athens, Ohio, and ran unsuccessfully for the Ohio Senate as a Democrat in 2004. About $26 million of the recovery was frozen in the United States. His windfall lasted about seven years; he filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

Mr. Anderson established the Vietnam Children’s Foundation with his friend Marcia Landau, which built more than 50 schools in Vietnam. He is the honorary chairman of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

He has also taught at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, the University of Kentucky, and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

In addition to his daughter Sulome, he left behind his second of three wives, Madeleine Bassil, whom he married in 1982. another daughter, Gabrielle Anderson; a sister, Judy Anderson; and a brother, Jack Anderson.

Anderson recalled that while captivity was torture, so was adjusting to what he called “the real world.”

“I had problems and it took me a long time to deal with them,” he said. “People ask me, ‘Did you overcome this?’ I don’t know! Ask my ex-wife—ask my third ex-wife. I don’t know; I am who I am.

“I was hurt much more than I realized, more than anyone realized,” he said.

“The recovery time is as long as the time you spent in prison,” he added.

Neil MacFarquhar Contributed reporting.


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