The suspected pro-Iranian captors of three American professors and an Indian-born U.S. resident Friday released a group picture of their hostages and an accompanying statement linking their fate to Palestinian self-determination.
The photograph and statement were sent to a Western news agency office in Moslem west Beirut by the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine.In the group picture, the four university professors carried a banner that said: "The Palestinian people want the right of self-determination. Don't lose this opportunity. Move to set us free."
The message, which reflected the tone of earlier statements by the group, was apparently aimed at the U.S. government.
The group claimed responsibility for the Jan. 24, 1987, abduction of the four university professors in west Beirut. The educators are Americans Alann Steen, 47, Jesse Turner, 39, Robert Polhill, 52 and Indian-born U.S. resident alien, Mithileshwar Singh, in his 60s.
Polhill's wife, Feryal, contacted by telephone, said she was glad to see her husband "looking fine in the picture."
U.S. officials - responding to two statements issued by the same group last week that indicated its willingness to engage in secret talks with Washington to release the four captives - had said that the adminstration will not make deals with the pro-Iranian zealots.