One of the Longest-Held US Hostages Dies at 76

Terry Anderson was kidnapped in Lebanon and held for almost 7 years
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 22, 2024 12:00 AM CDT
AP Reporter Held Captive for 7 Years Dies at 76
Former hostage and AP chief Middle East correspondent Terry Anderson, center right, hugs AP Deputy International Editor Nick Tatro, his predecessor in Beirut, outside the AP headquarters in New York, Dec. 10, 1991.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Terry Anderson, the globe-trotting AP correspondent who became one of America's longest-held hostages after he was snatched from a street in war-torn Lebanon in 1985 and held for nearly seven years, has died at 76, the AP reports. Anderson, who chronicled his abduction and torturous imprisonment by Islamic militants in his best-selling 1993 memoir Den of Lions, died on Sunday at his home in Greenwood Lake, New York, said his daughter, Sulome Anderson. Anderson died of complications from recent heart surgery, his daughter said. "He never liked to be called a hero, but that's what everyone persisted in calling him," said Sulome Anderson. "I saw him a week ago and my partner asked him if he had anything on his bucket list, anything that he wanted to do. He said, 'I've lived so much and I've done so much. I'm content.'"

In 1985, Anderson became one of several Westerners abducted by Hezbollah during a time of war that had plunged Lebanon into chaos. As the AP's chief Middle East correspondent, Anderson had been reporting for several years on the rising violence gripping Lebanon as the country fought a war with Israel, while Iran funded militant groups trying to topple its government. After returning to the United States in 1991, Anderson led a peripatetic life, giving public speeches, teaching journalism at several prominent universities and, at various times, operating a blues bar, Cajun restaurant, horse ranch, and gourmet restaurant. He also struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, won millions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets after a federal court concluded that country played a role in his capture, then lost most of it to bad investments. He filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

At the time of his abduction, Anderson was engaged to be married and his future wife was six months pregnant with their daughter, Sulome. The couple married soon after his release but divorced a few years later, and although they remained on friendly terms Anderson and his daughter were estranged for years. They reconciled after the publication of her critically acclaimed 2017 book, The Hostage's Daughter, in which she told of traveling to Lebanon to confront and eventually forgive one of her father's kidnappers. He is also survived by another daughter, Gabrielle Anderson, from his first marriage. Upon retiring from the University of Florida in 2015, Anderson settled on a small horse farm in a quiet, rural section of northern Virginia he had discovered while camping with friends. (Much more on his life, and harrowing time in captivity, here.)

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