McCarthy to return to Beirut

FORMER hostage John McCarthy is to return to Beirut for the first time since his release 12 years ago for the making of a television documentary.Mr McCarthy, who has a house in Woodbridge, will revisit the scene of his captivity in Beneath The Black Flag, an ITV programme about Shia Muslims.

FORMER hostage John McCarthy is to return to Beirut for the first time since his release 12 years ago for the making of a television documentary.

Mr McCarthy, who has a house in Woodbridge, will revisit the scene of his captivity in Beneath The Black Flag, an ITV programme about Shia Muslims.

He will return to the Beirut suburb where he was held for more than five years.

The one-hour special will take Mr McCarthy from Lebanon to Iran and Iraq in an attempt to understand his kidnappers' motives.


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Mr McCarthy's ordeal began in April 1986 when the journalist was seized by members of the Shia militant group Islamic Jihad.

He was held captive for 1,943 days, much of it blindfolded and shackled to a radiator, alongside fellow hostage Brian Keenan.

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Mr McCarthy said mention of Islamic Jihad still "sent a chill" through him.

But he has decided to make the programme because he wants to understand what motivated them.

"If they were fanatics, why were they so? What drove their devotion, what inspired their new and growing sense of identity?' he said.

ITV current affairs chief Steve Anderson said: "It's not surprising that he has been reluctant to return given what he went through, and he has been determined to move his life forward.

"Now he's ready to return, but to do something that's more than just a sightseeing trip. He'll be finding out at first hand what the motives are of this incredibly powerful and important set of people.'

Mr McCarthy, who used to live in a farmhouse in Blackmore End, near Wethersfield, Essex, will meet with militants, theologians and politicians to help provide an insight into the Shia faith.

Freed in August 1991, Mr McCarthy returned to the UK and to his partner Jill Morrell, who had campaigned tirelessly for his release.

They wrote a book about his ordeal, Some Other Rainbow, but split in 1995. He found love again with Anna Ottewill and they married in 1999.

Together with Keenan he wrote the bestseller Between Extremes, based on their experiences of travelling through Chile.

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