37 Hours in Beirut
In 1985 an Irishman, Aidan Walsh, then Deputy Head of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Lebanon, was kidnapped in Beirut. He was held hostage for 37 hours. Aidan believes that his release was a mistake – perhaps a misunderstanding between his young Palestinian guards and their more powerful, probably Iranian, masters.
By 1985 Beirut was a chaotic and dangerous city of competing militias. With the expulsion of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 1982, no one faction held the balance of power. The shock waves of the Islamic Revolution in Iran added another dangerous element to life in Beirut – Islamic Jihad, or Holy War. It brought with it a new tactic: kidnapping. Foreigners and locals both lived with the constant fear of abduction.
Aidan Walsh tells his own dramatic story. The other contributor is Aidan’s friend, the well-known journalist and author Robert Fisk, who was one of the first to see Aidan following his release.
Aidan counts himself a lucky man. Only a year later, Brian Keenan was kidnapped and held hostage for four years.