Former Beirut hostage to speak at SDSU

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

Terry Waite is an expert on international terrorism for many excellent reasons.

Chief among these reasons are the 1,760 days he spent in captivity in Beirut, Lebanon, held for the first four years in solitary confinement after hostage release negotiations broke down.

Before that, Waite had negotiated the successful release of many hostages being held by terrorists, but he is still known mostly for his long stay in a Lebanese prison.

“He has the experience of negotiating directly with terrorists and having … a first-hand understanding and knowledge of how terrorists think and what their motivation is,” said Dr. Robert Burns, the director of the honors college and the person responsible for booking someone to present the Griffith Honors Forum Lecture, an annual event sponsored by the honors college. “Since his release as a hostage, he’s been very much involved in writing and lecturing about international terrorism and the root causes of international terrorism.”

Before Waite was taken prisoner, the native of the United Kingdom worked extensively throughout the world for a Roman Catholic medical order in the 1970s. In the 1980s, he was recruited by the Archbishop of Canterbury and came to fame after successfully negotiating the release of hostages being held in Iran and in Libya.

At a similar negotiation in 1987, he was taken prisoner.

After his release in 1991, Waite was elected a Fellow Commoner at Trinity Hall in Cambridge, England. He then wrote a bestseller entitled “Taken on Trust.” He has since written other books.

“(Terrorism) is a very, very timely topic. We are in Iraq, at least in part, because of our concern for international terrorism,” Burns said. “It’d be a very excellent opportunity for students to learn from an individual who has observed international terrorism first hand.”