Archive for Sunday, December 8, 1991


December 8, 1991


Individuals and groups responsible for holding hostages in the Middle East will keep trying to sell us on the idea that their cause has been politically justifiable and just. Some of them even get decent reports about treatment of captives from the people who were held for so long.

But a good many of these criminals have some answering to do, as in the cases of Americans Alann Steen and Joseph Cicippio.

Steen suffered a week of seizures after his brain was damaged in 1987 during a beating by his Lebanese captors, a U.S. military doctor says. The doctor says the 52-year-old Steen, held nearly five years, will have life-long neurological problems and must take medication to control seizures. ``He is coming out slightly different,'' Dr. Uwe Fohlmeister has commented. The doctor added that with medication, Steen ``should have no problems going back to lead a normal life.''

Another American freed just recently, the 61-year-old Cicippio, has a dent in his skull and suffers dizzy spells from being knocked out when he was captured in 1986.

Fohlmeister, who treated Steen and Cicippio at Wiesbaden, said Steen has no psychological damage from his beating but suffers from periodic blackouts. Cicippio's condition apparently can be controlled with medication, but Steen will always have numbness and coordination problems with his right arm and leg, the doctor said.

All this takes on even more ironic tones when various kidnapping groups now say the hostages never did serve a good purpose and that nothing was gained from their being seized and held.

Let's keep the cases of Steen and Cicippio and others who may have been mistreated firmly in mind before we get too teary-eyed about the ideology and goals of people who imprisoned and abused them all those months.

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