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April 4, 2002

Former hostage talks about terrorism

Photo of Terry WaiteHumanitarian, hostage, negotiator and author Terry Waite's life is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. In the late 1980s, after being sent to Beirut to negotiate for the safety of others, he was taken captive and held in solitary confinement for four years.

He will talk about his experience and examine the causes of international terrorism at California State University, Sacramento at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 18 in the University Union Ballroom.

Waite became a public figure in the 1980s, when he gained international recognition for successfully negotiating the release of British hostages in Iran and Libya. Facing great danger and formidable adversaries - including the leadership of the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution and Colonel Muammar Qadhafi - Waite's grace-under-fire philosophies prevailed.

On a fateful day in 1987 in Beirut, while negotiating for the release of Western hostages on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Waite himself was taken hostage by Shiite Muslims. He remained in captivity for 1,760 days, the first four years of which were spent in solitary confinement. He was beaten and subjected to mock executions.

"I vowed, as soon as I realized what was going on, that there were three things I would stick to," Waite said after he was released. "No regrets, I knew that I had done the best I could. No self-pity, because self-pity will kill, and no over-sentimentality, because if you start thinking how much nicer you could have been to your family, you'll fall into absolute misery."

Even today, more than 10 years since being held hostage, the experience of those years still haunts him.

"I was living in a tiny room without natural light. Often I was chained to the wall with my hands and feet. I was blindfolded when somebody came in the room and I had no news of the outside world," he says.

But Waite feels he came out of the ordeal "enriched by the experience."

"I have a greater understanding of people now. I know what it is like not to have any human dignity, to be pushed around, to be sick and not to have medicine," he says.

Waite has written several acclaimed novels based on his experiences. The first book published after his release, Taken on Trust, was something he had written in his head as he remained chained to the wall in the dark.

Today, Waite continues his humanitarian efforts through his writings, lectures and work with organizations such as Y-Care International, a disaster-relief funding organization administered through YMCAs worldwide. He also serves as United Kingdom president of Emmaus International, an organization for the homeless; and director of Freeplay Foundation and Educational Interactive Solutions, an Internet company that publishes educational material.

Tickets for his talk at CSUS are $10 general and $5 for students. Tickets are available at the CSUS Ticket Office at (916) 278-4323 or at at (916) 766-2277. Additional media assistance is available from the CSUS office of public affairs at (916) 278-6156.


For further information, send an e-mail to or contact
public affairs at (916) 278-6156. For ticketed events, call the CSUS Ticket Office at (916) 278-4323.   

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