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1987: Peace envoy imprisoned in Beirut

VIDEO : Report on the Terry Waite kidnapping

Reports from Lebanon say Church of England envoy Terry Waite has been kidnapped by an Islamic militia group.

Mr Waite, 47, disappeared on 20 January, eight days after arriving in the capital, Beirut, to try to free four hostages, including British journalist John McCarthy.

"Waite is arrested now"

Nabih Berri, Shia Amal leader

News of his imprisonment came after key militiamen from the Shia Amal and Druze factions held separate meetings with Vice-President Khaddam of Syria in Damascus.

Shia Amal leader Nabih Berri said: "What I know is that Waite is arrested now."

Druze warlord leader Walid Jumblatt - whose group guaranteed Mr Waite's safety before he left the UK - supported Mr Berri's statement.

Western diplomatic sources believe he is the only man with the power and will to rescue the peace envoy.

The Islamic Jihad organisation has released a photograph of one of the men Mr Waite was looking for - Terry Andersen - with a threat to kill him and other hostages if the US pursues military action against Lebanon.

They made no mention of Mr Waite but British diplomats believe he disappeared after arranging a late night meeting with them in West Beirut without his Druze bodyguards.

Islamic Jihad - of which Shia Amal is a part - has reiterated demands for the release of 17 Arabs jailed in Kuwait for bombing offences there in 1983.

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Robert Runcie has revealed he appealed to the speaker of the Iranian Parliament - Hashemi Rafsanjani - last week to help retrieve his missing envoy.

Mr Rafsanjani - the second most powerful man in Iran - told a news conference he was prepared to use his influence to try and find Mr Waite since he was a humanitarian.

In England churches of all denominations offered prayers for Mr Waite's safe return yesterday.

His wife Frances and their four children are being consoled in their parish of Blackheath, London.

In Context
Three days later it became clear Terry Waite had been lured into a trap by members of Islamic Jihad who claimed the envoy had betrayed them over the release of American hostage David Jacobsen in November.

Islamic Jihad said Mr Waite had not fulfilled his promise to supply arms to Iran and to secure the release of the 17 prisoners in Kuwait.

A German newspaper, Bild, claimed Mr Waite had been critically shot trying to escape his Lebanese captors, but the British Foreign Office quickly quashed these reports.

After several years of rumour and speculation Terry Waite was finally released in November 1991.

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