Concern for the fate of four Americans still missing in Lebanon rose Saturday. Former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali arrived here to seek their release, and the shadowy group that claims to hold them captive said one of the four has been sentenced to death.
Ali arrived in Beirut after a flight from Paris, hoping to meet with the kidnapers but looking exhausted by his trip.
As he checked into a West Beirut hotel, he told reporters that his mission is to "do what we can with the help of Allah to free the people who have been captured."
Ali, a Black Muslim, was accompanied by Jabir Muhammad, who, as Herbert Muhammad, had been Ali's personal manager when he was fighting and who is the son of the late Elijah Muhammad, the former leader of Black Muslims in the United States.
Ali Keeping Quiet
"With respect to the people who are keeping the hostages, we have to keep what's on our mind quiet till we meet the right people," Ali said. He did not indicate whom he would meet.
Muhammad said Ali also hopes to win the release of Hussein Abdullah Farrash, the Saudi Arabian consul in Lebanon who was kidnaped in January of last year.
Last week, one of the Americans who had been missing here, correspondent Jeremy Levin of Atlanta-based Cable News Network, said he escaped from his kidnapers in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley after 11 months in captivity and walked to a Syrian troop position.
Levin was turned over to American authorities in Damascus by the Syrian government on Friday and was flown to Frankfurt, West Germany, where he was reunited with his wife and family.
The 52-year-old Levin, who was CNN's Beirut bureau chief when he was forced into a car by a gunman last March 7, was given a clean bill of health Saturday by Air Force doctors.
Levin 'in Good Health'
"Mr. Levin is in good health, and there should be no reason to curtail his return to the United States," an Air Force statement said. "His departure date has not been established as yet."
Levin's escape left four Americans missing, all of whom disappeared in the past year and who are presumed to have been kidnaped.
The four are William Buckley, a U.S. diplomat; the Rev. Benjamin Weir, a Presbyterian minister; Peter Kilburn, a librarian at the American University of Beirut, and Father Lawrence Jenco, head of the Catholic Relief Services offices here.
An anonymous caller claiming to represent the group known as Islamic Jihad (Islamic Holy War), which says it holds the Americans, said Saturday that Levin had been released--that he did not escape.
One Sentenced to Death
"As for the other detainees we are holding, one of them has been sentenced to death," the caller said.
When pressed for more information, the caller replied, "When he is executed, you will all know about it."