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Terry Anderson: Journalist and Hostage Survivor, dies at 76

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Terry Alan Anderson was an American journalist and combat veteran. He reported for the Associated Press. He died at age 76.

Terry Alan Anderson, an American journalist and former soldier, worked as a reporter for the Associated Press. In 1985, while covering stories in Lebanon. He was captured by Shia Hezbollah militants from the Islamic Jihad Organization and held captive until 1991. After his release, he continued his work as a journalist.

Later, in 2004, Anderson attempted to enter politics by running for a seat in the Ohio State Senate. But unfortunately, he was not successful in his campaign.

On March 16, 1985, after finishing a game of tennis, Terry Anderson was suddenly snatched from the street in Beirut. He was forced into the trunk of a car and transported to a hidden location, where he was held captive. Over the next six years and nine months, he endured the ordeal of being moved from one secret site to another.

His captors were members of Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group backed by Iran. They claimed they were retaliating against the United States for supporting Israel’s military actions in Lebanon during the early 1980s. During this time, Anderson held the distinction of being the longest held among the Western hostages taken by Hezbollah. Their aim was to pressure the U.S. to withdraw its military forces from Lebanon during the chaotic Lebanese Civil War.

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Several other U.S. citizens were also held captive at the same time as Terry Anderson. Among them were William Francis Buckley, who served as the CIA station chief in Beirut. Thomas Sutherland, an administrator at the American University of Beirut. Father Lawrence Jenco, a Catholic priest. David P. Jacobsen, an administrator at the American University Hospital of Beirut. Benjamin Weir, a Presbyterian minister. Jerry Levin, who was CNN’s Beirut bureau chief. Frank Reed, the head of the Lebanese International School. Joseph Cicippio, the deputy controller of the American University of Beirut. Edward Tracy, a bookseller and writer in Beirut. and Professors Alann Steen, Jesse Turner, and Robert Polhill.

Terry Anderson finally regained his freedom on December 4, 1991, after enduring over six years in captivity. Upon his release, Terry Anderson returned to his hometown of Lorain, Ohio,. Where the community warmly welcomed him on June 21, 1992. Despite the hardship he endured, Anderson expressed his forgiveness towards his captors.

Using a portion of his settlement, Terry Anderson collaborated with actress Kieu Chinh to establish the Vietnam Children’s Fund. This charitable initiative aimed to improve education in Vietnam, particularly for disadvantaged children. Through their combined efforts, the Vietnam Children’s Fund successfully constructed over 50 schools across the country.

Their commitment to providing educational opportunities for Vietnamese youth has had a lasting impact on communities. Empowering countless children with access to quality education. Anderson’s philanthropic work with the Vietnam Children’s Fund demonstrates his dedication to making a positive difference in the lives of others. Even after facing personal challenges.

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Terry Anderson’s Journey to Freedom:

Terry Anderson, who was the longest held American hostage in Lebanon, grins with his 6-year-old daughter Sulome, on Dec. 4, 1991, as they leave the US Ambassador's residence in Damascus, Syria, following Anderson's release.
On December, Terry Anderson, the longest-held American hostage in Lebanon. Grins with his 6-year-old daughter Sulome.4, 1991, as they leave the US Ambassador’s residence in Damascus, Syria, following Anderson’s release.

After regaining his freedom, Terry Anderson embarked on a diverse journey in his post-captivity life. He shared his wealth of knowledge and experience by teaching courses at prestigious institutions. Such as the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Anderson became a familiar face in the media world. He appeared as a guest on talk shows, penned columns, and even hosted his own radio talk show. His ability to articulate his experiences captivated audiences and furthered discussions on important issues.

Not content with just sharing his story orally, Anderson also authored a best selling memoir titled. “Den of Lions,” providing readers with a firsthand account of his harrowing ordeal as a hostage.

Driven by a pursuit of justice, Anderson took legal action against the Iranian government for his captivity. In 2002, Anderson achieved a significant victory when he received a multimillion dollar settlement from frozen Iranian assets as a result of his efforts. Though estimates suggest the settlement amounted to $26 million. The compensation he actually received underscored the recognition of the suffering he endured during his captivity.

After his varied experiences post-captivity, Terry Anderson settled in Nicholasville, Kentucky, where he took on the role of teaching journalism and diversity at the University of Kentucky. His commitment to education led him to join the faculty of the School of Journalism at the University of Kentucky in Lexington in 2009.

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However, Anderson faced financial challenges, and in November 2009, he filed for bankruptcy under chapter 7. Despite this setback, he continued his career in academia and journalism. In 2011, he became a visiting professional at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Not only focused on his personal endeavors, Anderson also dedicated his time to advocacy. In 2013, he assumed the role of Honorary Chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-profit organization that champions press freedom worldwide.

In 2014, Anderson made another move, this time to Hidden Village in Gainesville, Florida, where he accepted a position teaching International Journalism at the University of Florida. Through these transitions, Anderson continued to share his expertise and passion for journalism with future generations of journalists.

A Political Journey:

In December 2003, Terry Anderson made a significant announcement by declaring his candidacy for the Democratic ticket to represent the 20th District in the Ohio Senate. His opponent in this political race was Republican candidate Joy Padgett, who had previously been appointed to the seat during the term.

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During the campaign, Padgett stirred controversy with advertisements that insinuated Anderson’s stance on terrorism. These ads prominently featured a photograph of Anderson shaking hands with one of his former captors, implying that he might be lenient towards terrorism-related issues.

Despite the contentious nature of the campaign, Anderson garnered substantial support, securing 46% of the vote. It’s worth noting that the 20th District typically leans towards the Republican Party, having been under their representation since 1977. Despite not clinching victory, Anderson’s candidacy represented a significant foray into the political arena, showcasing his determination to contribute to public service and advocacy.

Terry Anderson, the renowned journalist and former hostage, passed away at the age of 76 on April 21, 2024, in his residence in Greenwood Lake, New York. His death came following recent heart surgery, marking the end of a remarkable and eventful life.

Throughout his lifetime, Anderson made indelible contributions to journalism, education, and humanitarian causes. Anderson’s journey, marked by resilience, compassion, and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world, unfolded from his harrowing experience as a hostage in Lebanon to his later endeavors in academia and philanthropy.

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His passing leaves behind a legacy that continues to inspire generations of journalists and advocates for press freedom and human rights. Those who knew Terry Anderson and the countless individuals whose lives he touched will cherish his memory through his work and activism.

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