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Kidnappers Use Videotapes of Hostages To Shock

July 8, 1987 GMT

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ The Moslem Shiite kidnappers of Western hostages in Lebanon use videotapes of their helpless captives as a psychological weapon to press their demands.

The sight of hostages, some visibly frightened, others meekly reading prepared statements, underscores how powerless the world is to rescue them from their nightmare.

But the tapes also prove the hostages are still alive. There has been no word on the fate of several of the 26 foreigners currently missing in Lebanon since they were abducted as long ago as March 1985.

The tape of kidnapped American journalist Charles Glass, issued Tuesday by his captors, showed him haggard and unshaven, choking with emotion as he said was a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency.

It was the first proof that Glass, 36, was still alive at the time of the taping following his abduction in south Beirut June 17. The last report on him came a week after the kidnapping, when the two Lebanese with whom he had been kidnapped were freed.

A previously unheard of group calling itself the Organization for the Free People’s Defense has claimed its members are holding Glass.

″Any statements made by hostages under such circumstances are always made under duress,″ State Department spokesman Charles Redman said in Washington. ″This tape, like previous videotapes of hostages, is another cynical attempt to manipulate public opinion.″

One of the American hostages, diplomat William Buckley, either died or was killed while being held by the pro-Iranian group Islamic Jihad - Islamic Holy War.

There are unconfirmed reports that his captors videotaped Buckley being tortured. The reports said the tape showed Buckley screaming in pain and begging for mercy, and the tape was obatined by the U.S. Embassy in Beirut where Buckley’s colleagues watched it in horror.

Buckley has been identified by U.S. officials as the CIA station chief in Beirut at the time he was abducted March 16, 1984.

An earlier videotape released by his captors showed Buckley gaunt and with a scraggly white beard. The victim stated he was being treated decently and pleaded with the U.S. government to heed his captors’ ″just demands.″

However, his girlfriend, Candace Hammond, said after viewing the tape: ″It wasn’t the Bill Buckley I knew. He sounded more like a wind-up toy.″

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There have been other gruesome tapes. The kidnappers of British journalist Alec Collett, seized March 25, 1986, released a tape of what they said was his execution by hanging after the British government refused to meet their demands to free terrorist convicted and imprisoned in London. His body was never found.

In a videotape released Nov. 15, hostage Terry Anderson, 39, chief Middle East correspondent of The Associated Press, pleaded with the Reagan administration to take action to win his release. He was kidnapped March 16, 1985.

Anderson in the tape noted the case of American journalist Nicholas Daniloff, who was briefly imprisoned in Moscow and charged with spying but was released after strenous protests from Washington.

″After two years of empty talk and refusal to act on the part of the Reagan administration it hurts to see the propaganda and bombast with which the administration solved the problem of Mr. Daniloff, a citizen like us who was imprisoned only a short time,″ said Anderson.

Anderson is held by Islamic Jihad.

He looked physically fit but was pale.

In September, Islamic Jihad released a videotape of one of its four French captives, Jean-Paul Kauffman, in which the 44-year-old researcher, emaciated after 16 months as a hostage, bitterly accused his government of abandoning him and his countrymen.

″We live in constant fear and are perpetually obsessed with death,″ he said. ″We are tired, sick and nervously exhausted. We feel desperate and totally abandoned.″

There are nine Americans, six Frenchmen, two West Germans, two Britons, an Indian, Irishman, South Korean, Italian, and two other foreigners of unknown nationality currently held by kidnappers in Lebanon.

In addition, Terry Waite, a British envoy of the Anglican Church who was seeking to arrange the release of the foreign hostages, dropped from sight in Beirut Jan. 20 and his whereabouts are unknown. No group has claimed involvement in his disappearance.