Former Boise resident Jesse "Jon" Turner won't have a merry Christmas.
Although all the American hostages in Iraq have been released in time for the holidays, Turner and 12 other Westerners still remain captives of radical Moslem groups in Lebanon.This is the fourth year Turner, 43, will spend Christmas imprisoned by armed terrorists. That means a rough Christmas for his family in Boise as well.
"Christmas is harder this year because you see Joanne without her daddy and Badr without her husband. We're just not a complete family," Turner's mother, Estelle Ronneburg, said.
Turner's wife, Badr, and daughter, Joanne, 3, are staying with Estelle and her husband, Eugene, at their Boise home.
"Any of the fun or happy things we do, Jon is always in my mind," said Badr, who was raised in Beirut and Syria. "Every celebration we have, everything we do, we think of him."
Badr said her sisters, who live in Beirut, had heard rumors that all the hostages may be released before the end of the year.
Turner was kidnapped along with three other American professors from Beirut University College on Jan. 24, 1987. Two of the men have since been released. Alann Steen remains in captivity with Turner.
Elie Chalala, a Lebanese native and Middle East expert at Santa Monica College in California, said he believes conditions in Lebanon favor a release of the hostages.
The various factions that have thrown Lebanon into civil war for the past several years have stopped fighting and are giving up their weapons.
But not everyone is in agreement on the issue.
Samih Farsoun, a sociology professor at American University in Washington, D.C., and editor of the Arab Studies Quarterly, said the hostages are not closer to being released.
"Those poor people are pawns," he said.
Farsoun said the hostages are all the Lebanese groups have left.
"These small groups don't have much to fight with except the hostages," he said. "I expect they may be waiting to see what a war in the gulf could lead to."
Turner's family, meanwhile, waits for any word about him.
"People who are in jail, they're allowed to see their friends and family," Badr said. "We are not even allowed to know who has him."