The convoy of three vehicles pulled to a stop in front of the old US embassy building on Ein Mreisseh Boulevard in Muslim West Beirut at 7 Sunday morning. As planned， a Westerner wearing dark glasses slid into the seat of one of the cars. Then， escorted by two truckloads of Lebanese police as a precaution against sniper fire， the convoy barreled toward the Green Line that divides the city‘s Muslim and Christian sectors. Minutes later， the cars crossed safely into Christian East Beirut， and David Jacobsen， director of Beirut’s American University Hospital， was a free man for the first time in 17 months.
Jacobsen thus became the first of seven Americans who had been still missing in Lebanon to win freedom， and there were hopes Thomas Sutherland might soon be next. Jacobsen‘s release followed a period of intense and secretive negotiations between officials of Islamic Jihad （Holy War）， a shadowy terrorist organization known to be holding at least two other Americans， and Anglican Envoy Terry Waite， the Englishman who had helped win the freedom of two American churchmen who had been held captive in Lebanon， one 13 months ago， one as recently as four months ago.
On May 28， 1985， Jacobsen was walking from his apartment to his office in the war-torn city when six men picked him up. According to Jacobsen’s son， his father tried to keep his spirits up during his captivity by telling himself every week that he was going to be released the next Sunday. As each Sunday passed for 17 months， he told hostages held at the same location that it was going to be the next Sunday. Thus it seemed only fitting that his release actually came on a Sunday.
Despite his attempts to remain optimistic， Jacobsen became more discouraged as the months dragged on. Last November he was one of the signers of a letter to Reagan that appealed to the President to negotiate their release. When one of the other hostages， Father Lawrence Jenco， a Roman Catholic relief-agency official， was freed by his captors in July， he carried with him a videotape recording of Jacobsen. On it， Jacobsen said he “felt like one of Custer‘s men， adding， “You know the end of their stories. Pray that ours will have a happier ending.” In another videotape released last month， Jacobsen was highly critical of the Reagan Administration for having negotiated the release of Journalist Nicholas Daniloffin Moscow while refusing to make any deals for his freedom. Said he on tape: “Don’t we deserve the same attention and protection that you gave Daniloff？”
But after the months of few developments， events moved quickly last week. Waite showed up unexpectedly in Beirut on Friday for his first visit in several months. He clearly hoped to improve on his record of one release at a time. Islamic Jihad seemed to indicate that diplomatic activity was afoot that could achieve such a goal. Although State Department officials insisted that no deal was in the works， the terrorist group said in a statement following Jacobsen‘s release that the US had embarked on “approaches that could lead， if continued， to a solution of the hostages issue。
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