Syracuse Herald Journal (Newspaper) - December 8, 1991, Syracuse, New York
I Syracuse Herald American, Sunday, December 8, 1991 A1S Anderson's biggest fear was loss of his mind Ex-hostage invented sign language, wrote poems. The Associated Press WIESBADEN, Germany Terry Anderson desperately feared the blindfolds, chains and dark cells of captivity would kill the one thing he had left: his mind. Tedium and isolation compelled the former hostage to bully and badger both cellmates arid captors into turning their bleak surround- ings into an eerie oasis of imagi- nation. "I was desperate to keep my brain Anderson, chief Mid- dle East correspondent for The Associated Press, said in ah inter- view conducted when he made a telephone call to the AP staff here. "I was deadly scared that I would lapse into some kind of mental rot." Anderson, 44, was freed Wednesday after days in captivity, the last of 13 U.S. hos- tages to go free in Lebanon. He is resting and undergoing medical tests at the U.S. military hospital in: Wiesbaden. Military authorities have not allowed journalists to in- terview freed hostages in person at the hospital. Anderson was opinionated, eloquent, blunt and confident in the 40-minute interview Friday. THE STOCKY EX-MARINE says he regrets that he initially saw fellow hostages, such as American Thomas Sutherland and Irishman Brian Keenan, as poten- tial learning tools instead of human beings. "Brian said to me once that he. felt like I was just kind of sucking everything out of his brain, Anderson said. 'i He says he got Sutherland "to teach him French'until he became fluent. He badgered his captors for books until they brought them by the boxload. He bullied Sutherland to learn the sign language Ander- son half-invented. He argued long and passionately with his cellmates about selected topics, then baffled them by abruptly pursuing the opposite view, an exercise to keep his mind limber and fit. LAST YEAR, ANDERSON taught a tedious language of taps against the wall to a hostage chained in the next cell: Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite. Then; when Waite could under- stand the makeshift language, Anderson unloaded in a stunning, one-hour burst the news that Waite had missed during four years of solitary confinement: Communism fell in Eastern Eu- rope. Germany was reunifying. Free elections were being held in the Soviet Union. Apartheid was ending in South Africa. War had broken out in the Persian Gulf.' "All at once boom, boom, boom all through the Anderson said. "He told me later it all kind of numbed his mind." Anderson described the agony of a life in chains and blindfolds, food flung on the floor, a prison for the innocent, a sentence of unknown length, empty days evolving into years. It was a life of rigid rules en- forced by brutal guards, a life in a small cell devoid of daylight. HE WAS ALLOWED to go to the bathroom only once a day. Anderson says he constantly, de- manded better treatment, and that the captors gradually improved the hostages' living con- ditions. "There are assaults on your dig- nity as a human being.... that you just can't he said. man throws you food on the ground, throws a sandwich oh the floor. I mean, I'm not a dog. I'm not going to eat off the floor, he said angrily. "These are the kinds of arguments we had." His captors finally "at least rec- ognized that I was going to mand to be treated with at; least a minimum, amount of dignity arid .respect." ANDERSON AND OTHER Western hostages were moved 15 to 20 times during captivity. Some- times they were in solitary con- finement and sometimes they were sometimes in small cells and sometimes in a fortified apart- ment. Some guards were relatively de- cent and some were "very kicking; slapping or shov- ing hostages if they violated the strict rules of behavior. The Associated Pntt JUBILANT TERRY ANDERSON is greeted by his daughter Sulome on his arrival at Rheln Meln air base outside Frankfurt Tuesday. "When somebody came through the door, you put your blindfold Anderson never, ever allowed your blindfold to slip or to not be put into place immedi- ately upon the first sound from the door." That rule continued "right up to the day I left." The hostages were not allowed to. see their guards, but knew their personalities. Anderson said the hostages gave them nicknames, "pretty rough nicknames" for the bad ones. British journalist John McCarthy, whom Anderson called a devastatingly accurate mimic, skewered the worst guards with dead-on impressions. THE BOOKS THAT Anderson steadfastly demanded showed up about years ago, a period when "treatment markedly improved." "We got boxes of books... bad books, cheap books, thrillers, Bar- bara Cartland, political science textbooks We must have got over a thousand of them over a pe- riod of a said Anderson. "You can imagine the difference it makes in your life when you're locked in a room 24 hours' a day." This was nirvana for Anderson, who claimed .he routinely read 300 to 400 .books each year before he was captured. But the books and occasional ra- dios also became powerful tools of punishment for the Shiite Muslims holding the hostages, "When we got in an argument (with the guards) they would take the radio, the books and we would- be left in the bare room he said. Anderson and other hostages had a radio during the first year of captivity. It was taken away, then another one arrived three-years later. "After a while, they took it away he said. "We finally got the radio back after much argument, much discussion, many, many re- quests. I would ask every single day, they would tell me no." IN THE LAST YEAR, the books stopped coming but the mag- azines began, regular deliveries of Time, Newsweek, The Economist, U.S. News and World Report and the occasional Fortune. Anderson was kept at various times with several hostages, in- cluding American Presbyterian Rev. Benjamin Weir, American University of Beirut hospital ad- ministrator David Jacobsen, Amer- ican Frank Reed, Roman Catholic priest Lawrence Jenco and Wil- liam Buckley, the former CIA station chief in Beirut. Anderson believes Buckley died in the room they shared. "David was there, Ander- son said. "We interpreted what happened by sound. He was at the time extremely ill." "I could hear him talking to the guards he said. "He was delirious and I could hear him moaning and saying things." Anderson spent most of his time with Sutherland, sometimes chained together. Seizure sends ex-hostage to hospital The Associated Press WAYNE, Mich, Freed: hostage Alann Steen suffered a seizure and was hospi- talized shortly after arriving; in Michigan from Germany Saturday. He suffered a seizure, immediately after leaving Detroit Metropolitan Airport and was" brought to Anna- polis Hospital, said Wayne County Sheriff's Lt. Robert McGraw. Dr. Surindar Jolly, a neu-' rologist at the hospital, said.- Steen was in stable condi- tion. Steen said Thursday an unprovoked attack by his. kidnapper in 1987 left him with permanent brain- damage, forcing him to take drugs to control seizures and' blackouts. DURING ONE PERIOD, Anderson said he suddenly re-.-- called the rudiments of sign guage he learned in high He approximated what he not remember to re-create alphabet, and felt teach Sutherland, Then the two were put tary confinement. Anderson .said he was able to see hostage thy and Keenan and taught the sign language. For months, the four each other from their cells and, silently, continued long conversations. ORDER NOW! For the past week, the Herald-Journal has been running a series of stories on the bombing of Pearl Harbor full of facts, photos, graphics, and dramatic testimony of that fateful "Day of Infamy" fifty years ago. For you can have a 14-page reprint of the series. Just come down to "Extras! The Herald-Journal Company between 12 noon and p.m. Monday through Friday. "Extras! The Herald-Journal Company Store" is located in the lobby of the Herald-Journal at 1 Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse. Or if you out the coupon below and send a check for. for the reprint, postage and handling toI "Extras! The Herald-Journal Company Syracuse Newspapers, P.O. Box 4915, Syracuse, New York 13221 and we will send you your copy of Day of Infamy." F I F T Y YEARS LATER If you decide to purchase any other item at our company store mugs, through Jan. 1, you wiD recieve this special reprint absolutely free. A few of the items available for sale are listed below. for wine bottles Canvas bags Entertafmiwm '91 coupon books Glasses Mugs T-SWrts Umbrellas and mora... Name _ Address. Number of copies of the "Day in Infamy" reprint at each plus for handling Mail to: Make your check out to the Syracuse Newspapers. Amount enclosed. "Extras! The HeraM-Journal Company Store" PO Box 4915 Syracuse, New York 13221 At Andrew's Furniture WERE SITTING ON A LOT OF Sofas Loveseats lii Kmih rrrk I.