Kidnap stresses Lebanon violence

The kidnapping of a Jordanian envoy here demonstrates that violence against diplomatic and other institutions in Lebanon is still prevalent. Other diplomats whose lives have been in danger in recent months include the American ambassador, who narrowly escaped an assassination attempt as he drove along a rightist- controlled highway last summer.

Unknown gunmen kidnapped the Jordanian charge d'affaires, Hisham Moheisen, Feb. 6, anonymous telephone callers have warned he will be killed unless their demands are met.

The Jordan official, like most diplomats in this divided capital, lived and worked in its western side, where security is under the control of Syrian troops of the Arab Deterrent Force.

A military build-up along the border of the two countries was defused last December only after intensive shuttles between the two capitals by a senior Saudi Arabian prince. A pro- Syrian newspaper here reported renewed Jordanian reinforcements along the border at the end of January, but these reports were not confirmed.

The two-dozen gunmen who took Mr. Moheisen and a housemaid from his home last Friday, killing three security guards in the process, left behind leaflets signed by "The Pan-Arab Leftist Organization, vanguards of revolutionary violence -- Lebanese region."

In the alphabet soup of Lebanese political and paramilitary groups, the word "vanguards" often points to a pro-Syrian stance. But Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel-Halim Khaddam has denied firmly that his government had anything to do with the kidnapping.

A separate attempt to link the Syrians with the killings has been made by the Falangist Party's private radio station here. It broadcast "live" what it described as a phone call from a spokesman for "The Eagles of the Revolution" group, which claimed responsibility for the action.

But the choice of a right-wing medium for this message, and such open references to Syrian involvement, make it seem much more likely the whole broadcast was a "black propaganda" effort aimed at discrediting the Syrians.

Whoever is responsible for Mr. Moheisen's abduction, it has already caused some embarrassment for Palestine Liberation Organization leaders here, many of whom were on good personal terms with him.

PLO leaders naturally are anxious not to strain the alliance with Syria that assu res their continued military presence in Lebanon.

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