Reed Urges Political Action to Free Other Captives
Freed hostage Frank Reed returned to the United States on Friday, angrily denouncing the plight of Western captives in Lebanon and calling for public pressure to force political action to free them.
“Thank you all for your love and concern and yes, for your tears, for I cry with you, that this tragic affair will end soon. God make it soon,” Reed said in a statement read to reporters after a 10-hour flight that brought him from West Germany to Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington.
He spoke in the rain only after prodding by reporters and one who shouted: “You’re a free man, you can talk now.”
Reed, 57, was freed in Lebanon on Monday by a group that had held him since September, 1986. He had been recuperating at the U.S. Air Force Hospital in Wiesbaden, West Germany.
With his two daughters and his Syrian-born wife, Fahima, sobbing at his side, Reed spoke of others still held captive in Lebanon.
“I of course want every hostage released, and let the world not forget that what we, my mates, Brian Keenan, John McCarthy, Terry Anderson and Tom Sutherland represent, is something that transcends all geopolitical ideas and motives,” Reed said, his voice rising to a near-shout. Anderson and Sutherland are Americans; McCarthy is an English subject, and Keenan is Irish.
“And as for the currency of kidnapers for centuries, freedom and life, I ask all of you today, tonight, tomorrow, (to) send personal messages to every political leader involved in this terrible tragedy, asking for its end, so that good men like my mates left behind never, never, never have to go through what I have and what others are still going through. Amen! Amen! Amen!
“And finally, let the people of England never forget Brian and John. You cannot let them down. You must never let them down,” he said.
Fifteen Westerners--six of them American--remain missing and are believed held in Lebanon.
Reed was the second American hostage freed in two weeks. The other, Robert Polhill, was among those who greeted him at Andrews.
Reed was scheduled to undergo further medical examination at Malcolm Grow Air Force Medical Center, U.S. officials said.
First Lady Barbara Bush was preparing to depart Andrews for a speech at Southeast Community College in Cumberland, Ky., as Reed was being taken away by bus from his plane.
She and Mrs. Reed met briefly before she boarded her plane.
Frank Reed told Mrs. Bush he was “glad to be home” and introduced her to his family.
“We’re so glad you’re home. I know the President wishes he was here to meet you,” Mrs. Bush told him, according to the White House. President Bush addressed a commencement ceremony Friday at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) fulfilled Reed’s wish for lobster by bringing a crate of them to the airport. Reed’s son, Tarek, 9, gleefully played with one live lobster on the Tarmac before Reed left the plane.
“To every member of my family, and that very special 91-year-old beautiful mother of mine, who by example demonstrated to the world that we Reeds aren’t quitters, I love and thank you for your prayers,” Reed said.