Terry Anderson, AP reporter held hostage for nearly 7 years in Lebanon, dead at 76

Terry Anderson

Terry Anderson, a Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press who was held hostage for nearly seven years in Lebanon during the 1980s, has died, the news organization announced on Sunday. He was 76.

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Anderson died in Greenwood Lake, New York, just north of the New Jersey border, his daughter, Sulome Anderson, told the AP. The cause of death was unknown, although his daughter said Anderson recently had undergone heart surgery.

Anderson was kidnapped on March 16, 1985, on a street in western Beirut by Islamic militants while covering the long-running civil war, according to History.com.

He was held captive for 2,454 days in an underground dungeon in Beirut’s southern suburbs before he was released on Dec. 4, 1991, according to the website.

Anderson said he was likely targeted for abduction because his role as a journalist aroused suspicion among members of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the AP reported.

“Because in their terms, people who go around asking questions in awkward and dangerous places have to be spies,” he told the Virginia newspaper The Review of Orange County in 2018.

Anderson wrote about his abduction in his 1993 memoir, “Den of Lions: A Startling Memoir of Survival and Triumph.”

He once noted that his time in isolation made him believe he was losing his sanity, according to Britannica.com.

“This solitary confinement is killing me. There is nothing to hold on to, no way to anchor my mind,” Anderson wrote. “I try praying, every day, sometimes for hours. But there’s nothing there, just a blankness.”

After returning to the United States in 1991, Anderson gave public speeches, taught journalism classes at the college level, and ran a blues bar, Cajun and gourmet restaurants and a horse ranch, the AP reported.

Anderson retired from the University of Florida in 2015 and settled on a horse ranch in a rural area of Virginia, according to the news organization.

He was an honorary chairman of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which works on behalf of journalists under threat worldwide, and was co-chair of the Vietnam Children’s Fund.

At the time of his abduction, Anderson was engaged to be married. His fiancee was six months pregnant with their daughter, Sulome, the AP reported.

Anderson was born on Oct. 27, 1947. He spent his early childhood years in Vermillion, Ohio, where his father was a police officer, the news outlet reported.

After graduating from high school, Anderson enlisted in the Marines. When he returned home he went to college and earned a double major in journalism and political science at Iowa State University, the AP reported.

He went to work for the AP and landed in Lebanon in 1982.

“Actually, it was the most fascinating job I’ve ever had in my life,” Anderson told The Review. “It was intense. War’s going on -- it was very dangerous in Beirut. Vicious civil war, and I lasted about three years before I got kidnapped.”

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