The bombing was executed by Iranian-supported Shiite guerillas who would come to be known as Hezbollah. Although American (and Italian and French) troops had withdrawn, and Israeli troops had driven out most of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s fighting force from the country, Israeli troops, which had invaded Lebanon in June 1982, still occupied South Lebanon.
Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and more obscure but equally brutal militant organizations turned on Westerners living in Lebanon, taking them hostage, either in retaliation for American support for Israel or to press for the release of prisoners in European or Arab prisons.
On March 16, 1985, a Saturday, he played tennis game with Don Mell, an AP photographer. “Terry was dropping me off in front of my apartment,” Mell recalled in The Times in 1989. “We were chatting when suddenly a green Mercedes pulled up in front of us. I had seen the car passing by twice at the courts. It had a sinister look, but I didn't think much of it at the time. You get used to seeing things like this in Beirut.”
Mell went on:
Three bearded gunmen jumped out of the car. They approached slowly at first, then like cats going for the kill. ''I don't like this,'' I yelled to Terry. ''Get out of here.'' I thought they were after me. The first gunman leveled his 9-millimeter pistol at my forehead. I started to back away as the others raced up to Terry's car. One dragged Terry out of the car and into the street holding him in a bear hug. I was frozen in terror. This wasn't part of the deal. Kidnappings happened to ''other'' people, not journalists. We were telling these people's story to the world.Anderson picked up the narrative in Den of Lions, the 1993 memoir of his captivity:
I wanted to rescue Terry, but I couldn't. I just stood there on a street so familiar to me, staring at a black pistol. Not a word was spoken. At that moment Terry's eyes met mine. They said, ''Don, do something.'' Mine said, ''Terry, I can't.'' Terry had the look of a man who knew he was doomed. The gunmen pushed Terry into the Mercedes. They sped toward the ruins of Beirut's green line, the line dividing East and West Beirut, and into hell.
The young man, dark and very Arab-looking, perhaps twenty or twenty-five, pulled me along beside him toward the Mercedes, just four or five yards away, still forcing me to remain half bent.Anderson, who at one stretch spent three years without seeing the sun but once, was held hostage 2,455 days—almost seven years. He was released on Dec. 4, 1991, the last of more than a dozen American hostages held in Lebanon between 1982 and 1991.
“Get in. I will shoot,” he hissed at me, pushing me into the back- seat. “Get down. Get down.”
I tried to crouch in the narrow space between the front and back seats. Another young man jumped in the other door and shoved me to the floor, throwing an old blanket over me, then shoving my head and body down with both his feet. I could feel a gun barrel pushing at my neck. “Get down. Get down.”
The car lurched into gear and accelerated madly up the hill a few yards, almost slid around a corner, then another, and up a short hill.
The front-seat passenger leaned over the back of his seat. “Don’t Worry. It’s political,” he said in a normal tone as the car lurched back And forth, the driver cutting in and out of traffic.
The strange comment, apparently meant to be reassuring, wasn’t. As my mind began to function again, it made me think of the other Americans kidnapped in Beirut for political reasons. William Buckley, missing twelve months. The Reverend Benjamin Weir, missing ten months. Father Lawrence Martin Jenco, missing two months.
There wasn’t any real fear yet—it was drowned by adrenaline. Just a loud, repeating mental refrain: Anderson, you stupid shit, you’re in deep, deep trouble.