Hostages Stalemate in a Tormented Land

After a deadline passes, hope fades for a prisoner exchange

The videotape image showed a weary-looking American hostage with a stubbly growth of beard. "This is the last message," wrote Captive Alann Steen the next day. "Once again we announce that we will be executed at midnight." Steen issued his stark pronouncement in an open letter last week that was signed as well by fellow U.S. Hostages Robert Polhill and Jesse Turner. Terrorists were threatening to kill the Americans and Indian National Mithileshwar Singh, also a Beirut University College professor, unless Israel released 400 imprisoned Arabs by the following midnight. But as the deadline expired, the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation...

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