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How the KGB dealt with terrorists after four Soviet diplomats were taken hostage in Lebanon

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

Articles from the digitized archives of the New York Times and the United Press Inter- national 1986. Yes, this is old news but it's still interesting to read how different governments reacted on hostage taking of their fellow countrymen more than 30 years ago.

Take note that 30 years ago a Muslim was called a Moslem, which is believed to be an insult today - when pronounced as MOZLEM - and a word only used by Islamophobes.

4 Russian Men Taken Hostage In West Beirut

Four Soviet diplomats riding in official cars were kidnapped in West Beirut today, authorities said. It was the first abduction of Soviet nationals in the Lebanese capital. As is usually the case in such kidnappings, no one took responsibility. There was no immediate official response from the Soviet Union.

Radio reports said the Russians were abducted by gunmen in two separate incidents, one involving the embassy doctor and a diplomat, the other involving two other diplomatic officials.

Men Pulled From Car

In one of the incidents, the police said a group of heavily armed men pulled two of the Russians from their car on a street not far from the Soviet Embassy in West Beirut, the predominantly Moslem sector of the capital. Witnesses said they were bundled into another vehicle and driven away.

The police identified the Soviet officials as Valery Mirkov, a commercial representative; Oleg Spirin, a cultural attache; Nikolai Virsky, the embassy doctor, and Arkady Katakov, who was identified only as an attache.

Some commentators here said they thought the abduction of the Russians could be related to the fighting in the northern port of Tripoli, where Soviet-oriented Communists have joined other pro-Syrian militiamen in an offensive to wrest control of the city from Moslem fundamentalists..

There was also speculation elsewhere that the abduction might have been linked to efforts by the Islamic Holy War organization to win the freedom of 17 convicted terrorists who are being held by Kuwait. There was also speculation that a Lebanese family that is said to have a relative among the 17 held in Kuwait might be connected to the kidnappings. Kuwait, unlike most other Arab Persian Gulf nations, has diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.

The captors of a recently freed American hostage, the Rev. Benjamin Weir, have said the freedom of six American hostages still being held hinges on the release of the 17 prisoners.

A brown Datsun with a Soviet Embassy license plate was found abandoned after the kidnapping near the residence of the British Ambassador, who moved to mostly Christian East Beirut last year after a spate of attacks against foreign diplomats in the Moslem part of the Lebanese capital.

A source close to the Soviet Embassy confirmed the kidnappings. ''All Soviets have been advised by the embassy to stay home because of a wave of kidnapping against us,'' the source said.

The source said the embassy was in contact with the various militias in West Beirut in an attempt to locate the officials. An official at the Beirut office of Tass, the official Soviet press agency, also confirmed the kidnappings, but could not provide any details. Telephone calls by reporters to both the embassy and the Soviet Cultural Center here went unanswered.

Lebanon 1980s | Hostage released after KGB castrated a kidnapper's family member

The KGB won the release of three kidnapped Soviet diplomats in Beirut by sending a key Moslem fundamentalist leader the severed testicles of an abducted relative and threatening more such mutilations, an Israeli news report said Monday.

The three Soviet Embassy officials were released unharmed Oct. 30. The fourth had been killed two days after the four were kidnapped in Moslem West Beirut Sept. 30.

The Islamic Liberation Organization said it seized the four diplomats to press demands that Moscow force Syria to end an offensive by Syrian-backed militias against Moslem fundamentalists in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli.

No explanation was given at the time as to how the Soviet hostages were freed, but the Jerusalem Post, quoting 'reliable sources' in Jerusalem, said the KGB was instrumental in obtaining their release.

The KGB, the Post said, kidnapped a Lebanese man, castrated him and sent the severed testicles to his relative, a key fundamentalist leader. The Soviet secret service then threatened that other family members would be dealt with in a similar fashion if the three Soviet hostages were not immediately released.

The castrated captive had been shot in the head and killed, the Post said, but could not confirm he had been shot before or after the castration.

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