Thomas Sutherland was an Iowa State University professor on loan to American University in Beirut when he was kidnapped in 1985. He was held by Islamic Jihad warriors for over six years.
The unrest in the Middle East, including the killing of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, is bringing back memories of his ordeal.
“I had an associate dean he said you know things are here and they don’t look too bright for you,” said Sutherland. “Islamic Jihad is pretty much anti-American,” he added.
Sutherland was held with journalist Terry Anderson, an Iowa State alum. Both were eventually released. Sutherland came to Ames to attend his wife Jean’s Ames High class reunion. Jean was in the United States when her husband was kidnapped. She flew to Beruit to live close by when he was in captivity.
“We don’t have any answers, we’re just like everyone else,-hoping that something positive can come out of it you know for the whole region,” said Jean Sutherland.
Thomas Sutherland heard that unrest was possible, but found the predictions hard to believe. “They’re gonna go and make trouble for Americans in the middle east and lo and behold they really did,” said Sutherland. “That was just the very outset of Islamic Jihad,” he added.
The Sutherlands now live in Ft. Collins, Colorado.