Kidnapped Victim Terry Waite Is Released – 11/18/1991

History |

People go through life dealing with a variety of hardships that are common depending on the environment we live in as well as other factors of influence. Unfortunately, individuals can suffer hardship that is unpredictable or being used to further another person’s agenda. Abduction can be one example of this and one person who is all too familiar with this is Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite, who was kidnapped by Shiite Muslims in Lebanon and was set free after being held captive for over four years on November 18th, 1991. 

He was freed due to the United Nations intense negotiations with the kidnappers; Waite appeared to have grayer hair and looked thinner as he was accompanied by American educator Thomas M. Sutherland who was also a kidnapped victim.

Terry was no stranger to kidnapping as he was able to work out the release of missionaries; he worked for the archbishop of Canterbury as a special envoy, who was held captive when the Islamic revolution ended in Iran. Also, he was successful in Lebanon by securing American hostages in 1986 as well as in Libya where he secured British hostages.

Waite was able to assist ten captives to be released until during a return assignment to Beirut, he was grabbed and held captive on January 20th, 1987. His captivity lasted over four years before his release could be obtained. While he was held captive, Terry said he was on more than one occasion had to endure fake executions, blindfolded and beaten. Waite added that he was put into a huge refrigerator when he would be transported many times, mostly chained to a radiator and was suffering from asthma.

After Waite was finally released to Syrian officials, the 52-year-old made a chaotic, unscheduled appearance in Damascus before reporters. Terry said that when he was told he was going to be set free, one of his abductors expressed regret to him. Waite said, “He also said to me: ‘We apologize for having captured you. We recognize that now this was a wrong thing to do, that holding hostages achieves no useful, constructive purpose.” While the two were released, five hostages from the West remained in Beirut; two Germans and the other three were Americans, including Terry Anderson. The release of the three Americans happened in December 1991 while June 1992 was when the Germans were released.

The hostage crisis in Lebanon from 1982-1992 resulted in about 96 foreigners were abducted. The majority were from Western countries that were mostly teachers, journalists and diplomats. Twenty-five Americans were held and about ten died while captive. Some died from illnesses due to poor medical attention while others were killed.

Hostages were taken originally as insurance to prevent Hezbollah from retaliation as they were considered to have planned the attack and murder of more than three hundred Americans in embassy and Marine barracks bombings in Beirut. Many felt that Syria and Iran had something to do with the kidnappings.

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Lelani Bright


Lelani began her writing career when was just a little girl and was named editor of her school’s paper her senior year. She took it as an honor when her classmates couldn’t wait to read what she had to say on certain topics. She didn’t like the hustle and bustle of working for her city paper. That is when her career began here and she hasn’t looked back since.