This week, our colleague Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent of the Associated Press, began his fifth year of captivity in Lebanon. His barbarous imprisonment is the longest yet endured by any of the 16 Western hostages still being held in that tragically ravaged land.
Anderson’s kidnapers are Shiite Muslim extremists under the influence of Iran.
Like all other forms of terrorism, the taking of hostages is at root a totalitarian act in that it cruelly denies the distinction between the guilty and the innocent. But holding hostages is particularly repellent because of the prolonged torment it inflicts on its victims and their families.
No grievance real or imagined, no injustice immediate or historic, no cause however selfless, no end however noble justifies the employment of such means.
We call on the kidnapers of Terry Anderson and the other 15 hostages to release them all immediately and without condition.
We call on the government of Iran to do what it can to bring this crime to an end.
We call on the Bush Administration to do everything prudence and decency will allow to set Terry Anderson and his fellow captives free.