Ex-hostage welcomes Kember release

FORMER Beirut hostage Terry Waite has urged peace activist Norman Kember to “utilise” the experience of his kidnapping rather than let it destroy him.Mr Waite, who was kidnapped and held for five years, last night said he expected Mr Kember to cope well following his four-month ordeal - which ended when he was dramatically rescued by a crack team of SAS soldiers on Thursday.

FORMER Beirut hostage Terry Waite has urged peace activist Norman Kember to “utilise” the experience of his kidnapping rather than let it destroy him.

Mr Waite, who was kidnapped and held for five years, last night said he expected Mr Kember to cope well following his four-month ordeal - which ended when he was dramatically rescued by a crack team of SAS soldiers on Thursday.

Speaking from his Suffolk home, Mr Waite, 67, said: “I think Mr Kember will be going through a mixed range of emotions.

“Of course, he will be glad to be out but he will now have to go through intelligence debriefings and medical check ups.


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“I would also say talk to a trained listener in order to analyse rather than bury what happened - it is something I did and it really helped.

“In my instance, there was very considerable danger but it doesn't have to destroy you - you can utilise what happened, which is something I hope he will do.”

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Mr Kember and two Canadian colleagues were rescued by the SAS from a house in west Baghdad after spending four months in captivity.

The body of a fourth man, American Tom Fox, was found dead in Baghdad earlier this month .

Mr Waite said: “It won't always be easy for Mr Kember, although he might take it well, and of course he will have to face the inevitable barrage of media interest.

“I would advise him to do one big press conference and then retreat into the background so he can adjust himself back into life with his family.

“It does look like he will be well supported when he returns home and he has a good church community behind him.”

Mr Kember's 118-day ordeal gripped the world and brought back a wave of emotions for Mr Waite who spent 1,760 days as a hostage in Lebanon.

He visited the country in 1987 as an envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, to try and secure the release of four hostages but was himself kidnapped by Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad.

Mr Waite also used the dramatic events of the last few days to question the wisdom of similar peace campaigning trips to war zones - after it was revealed another member of Mr Kember's peace team was planning to return to Iraq.

“The comparison and difference between when I was captured in Beirut and now is vast,” he said. “I was engaged in hostage negotiation at a time when you could meet secretly with the hostage takers and sometimes have success without payment and violence.

“The situation in Iraq is much more polarised - it is so much more extreme. Anyone who tries to act as an arbitrator is almost certain to be shot, not just for political reasons but also for criminal motives.

“I would definitely applaud anyone who wants to make peace but I would question their tactics as it can put other people at risk.”

He said Mr Kember had been through an “extreme ordeal” but stressed his time in captivity and away from society had been relatively short: “It was only four months. We all had about five years, four of which I spent in total solitary, and we survived.”

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