Middle East Official Freed From Lebanon Captivity
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ A prominent Middle East official of the International Lions Club kidnapped 11 months ago in Moslem west Beirut has been freed, police said today.
Victor Kano, 51, a naturalized Lebanese born in Syria, was set free in the suburban town of Shweifat at 11:30 p.m. Thursday and spent the night at his home in west Beirut’s Verdun neighborhood, police said.
Kano, a wealthy Christian businessman who headed the 39 International Lions Clubs in Lebanon and Jordan, was kidnapped near the French Embassy compound Sept. 10, 1986, by three men armed with silencer-equipped pistols.
No group claimed responsibility for the abduction. Police spokesmen have speculated that ransom was the motive but said today they did not know if a ransom was been paid to win Kano’s freedom.
″He’s in good shape. Physically he’s OK. We’re happy to have him with us,″ Kano’s wife, Rose, told The Associated Press.
A smiling Mrs. Kano, flanked by her son and daughter, said her husband rang the door bell at 1:30 a.m. today. ″I opened the door and he simply walked in. We were very happy to see him,″ Mrs. Kano said.
She said her husband was clean-shaven and wearing the same suit he wore on the day he was kidnapped.
Mrs. Kano said her husband needed rest and did not want to meet with reporters or photographers. ″We’re trying to keep a low profile,″ she added.
A police spokeman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, quoted Mrs. Kano as saying that she was grateful to Lebanese and Syrian authorities for helping win her husband’s freedom.
Kano operated a prosperous import-export business in the Moslem and Christian sectors of the Lebanese capital.
The Lions Club is among the few social institutions that maintained its existence despite the 12-year-old civil war that has claimed nearly 130,000 lives in Lebanon.
The Lebanese Lions Club continued to hold Christmas and New Year receptions in west Beirut restaurants despite the growing influence of pro-Iranian Shiite Moslem fundamentalists opposed to the Western mode of life.
Police have previously said they believed Kano’s kidnapping was not related to a wave of renewed abductions of Americans in west Beirut in September.
A day before Kano was kidnapped, gunmen abducted American educator Frank Herbert Reed, 53, of Malden, Mass. The pro-Libyan Arab Revolutionary Cells- Omar Moukhtar Forces claimed responsibility for the abduction.
Three days later, on Sept. 12, 1986, gunmen kidnapped Joseph James Cicippio, 56, of Valley Forge, Penn., from the campus of the American University of Beirut, where he worked as acting comptroller.
Revolutionary Justice, an underground group believed made up of Shiite zealots loyal to Iran’s revolutionary patriarch Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, said it kidnapped Cicippio.
Edward Austin Tracy, 56, formerly of Burlington, Vt., disappeared in September. Revolutionary Justice claimed a month later it held the American.
In all, 25 foreigners, including nine Americans, are missing and believed kidnapped in Lebanon since March 1985.
Another foreigner, Terry Waite, the personal envoy of British Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, disappeared in Beirut on Jan. 20 after leaving his hotel in Beirut for a meeting with kidnappers of Western hostages. No group claimed to be holding Waite.
The longest held foreign hostage in Lebanon is Terry Anderso, 39, the chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press. Anderson was abducted March 16, 1985.