As the deadline approached for the release of the kidnapped U.S. Colonel Ernest Morgan in?
As the deadline approached for the release of the kidnapped U.S. Colonel Ernest Morgan in Lebanon, the Palestine news agency, WAFA, placed responsibility for the seizure on a small group - the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP - GC).
An anonymous PFLP - GC spokesman for the group said in an interview on Wednesday (9 July) he rejected the agency's report but that he knew who had kidnapped Colonel Morgan and he supported the action. He said Morgan was not a tourist but a U.S. agent. He put all the responsibility for the kidnapping on the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
Colonel Morgan was kidnapped 12 days ago at the height of beirut's factional violence which killed 300 people. The kidnappers -- who remain unknown -- originally set a deadline on Wednesday (9 July) for the U.S. Embassy to meet various demands. These were to distribute food, clothing and building materials to a dockland area of the capital. They also asked for compensation for damage to the Rashidiyeh Palestinian Refugee Camp in south Lebanon which came under Israeli attack on Monday (7 July).
They have since extended the deadline to Saturday night (12 July). But the Embassy has made no sign of meeting the demands. A state Department spokesman in Washington -- asked what the U.S. Government's attitude would be towards the kidnappers' demands -- replied: "Our policy is well known and we see no need to repeat it."
He was referring to Washington's known reluctance to bargain over hostages.
Meanwhile, 43-year-old Colonel Morgan, a black American, has appealed to the U.S. to meet his captors' demands. In a tape recorded message he urged the U.S.A. "not to abandon me because of my colour". He added he was aware of the policy of not paying ransoms to kidnap groups but said to restore devastated areas would only be consistent with past U.S. performance.
SYNOPSIS: In Beirut, the headquarters of the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine - General Command. The P.F.L.P. -- G.C. was recently accused of kidnapping a U.S. Colonel.
This spokesman for the commando group denied the allegation during a special interview on Wednesday. This was the original deadline day for the release of Colonel Ernest Morgan, captured twelve days ago. The spokesman said the colonel had not come to Beirut as a tourist when he was kidnapped during the factional violence which killed three hundred people. He said Colonel Morgan was a U.S. agent and those who kidnapped him had a reason to do so. The spokesman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he knew who the Kidnappers were....and put all the responsibility on the Palestine Liberation Organisation. He accused the P.L.O. of collusion with the U.S., Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The unknown kidnappers have extended the deadline to release Colonel Morgan if the U.S. Embassy in Beirut meets certain demands. They want the American to distribute food, clothing and building materials to a dockland area of the capital. They also want compensation for damage to a Palestinian refugee camp which was attacked by Israel earlier this month. But Washington has repeated its stand about not paying ransoms to kidnap groups. Palestinian Leaders have condemned the kidnapping and have jointly blamed the P.F.L.P.-G.C. and also the Popular Struggle Front.
But both groups are denying the charges. This spokesman said he knew the identity of those who had carried out other kidnappings in Lebanon in recent weeks. All the victims except Colonel Morgan had been released. The forty-three-year-old Colonel has made his own appeal to the U.S. Government to meet his captors' demands. A black American, he urged the Government not to abandon him because of his colour.