Four kidnapers ambushed and pistol-whipped an American accountant today on the American University of Beirut campus, shoved him in the trunk of their car and sped away, police said.
The abduction of Joseph James Cicippio was the second gunpoint abduction of a U.S. citizen this week in the mostly Muslim western sector of the capital. Like Frank Herbert Reed, 53, the American educator seized on Tuesday, Cicippio had converted to Islam.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for Cicippio’s kidnaping.
A university statement identified Cicippio, whose 56th birthday is Saturday, as the university’s acting controller. It said he was kidnaped at 6:45 a.m. at the entrance to his apartment building on the campus, which stretches over a wooded hillside above the Mediterranean Sea.
Convert to Islam
University sources said the tall, robust Cicippio, who was born and grew up in the Norristown area of Pennsylvania, became a Muslim convert last year before marrying 25-year-old Ilham Ghandour, a Lebanese.
His wife, a secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Christian East Beirut’s Aukar suburb, had left for work 30 minutes before her husband’s abduction.
Cicippio’s abduction increased to 18 the number of foreigners now missing in Lebanon. They are six Americans, seven Frenchmen, two Britons, an Italian, a South Korean and an Irishman.
University sources said Cicippio’s kidnapers hid behind bushes all night and then grabbed him as he left the apartment to walk to work in a nearby college hall.
The university janitor, a Lebanese who refused to be identified, said Cicippio resisted as his kidnapers forced him out of the faculty gate.
Hit With Pistol Butt
Witnesses told police that one gunman hit Cicippio on the back of the head with a pistol butt. The controller was then pushed into the trunk of a car and the kidnapers sped off, police said.
Officers said there were bloodstains near the gate where Cicippio’s broken eyeglasses were found.
The janitor was the only one manning the gate because a Lebanese policeman, who was due to be on guard when the kidnaping took place, arrived late.
Cicippio’s family in Norristown said he worked there about 25 years as a branch bank manager but left the United States about 10 years ago after his second marriage failed. They said he has seven children by his two previous marriages.
The accountant worked in Saudi Arabia and in London before coming to Beirut in 1984.