One of the Americans held hostage by radical Iranian militants during the 1979 crisis spoke out to FOX News about the parallels with the Americans currently being held by Hamas terrorists following the invasion of Israel.
Retired Marine Sgt. Kevin Hermening said the current crisis shows Iran and its proxies have successfully “exported their brand of Islamic international terrorism” over 40-plus years.
He pointed to Hamas, the Yemeni Houthis, Hezbollah and other Islamic Jihad groups that have terrorized the Mideast and the West ever since.
“This is all about how they can bargain for even more capital, more money, more barrels of cash on the top of a pallet being sent in the middle of the night, halfway around the globe,” he said.
In 2016, then-President Barack Obama notably sent the first installment of a $1.7 billion payment to Iran in the dead of night on an aircraft full of Swiss Francs and other monies.
“This is how Iran has behaved ever since the mullahs took over from the Shah back in 1979. We have to feel for the families. The hostages know what their treatment is like. I’m not saying it’s easy,” Hermening said.
Many of the hostages held by the Iranian militants who besieged the U.S. embassy in Tehran that year spent 444 days captive. As Hermening recounted, they were eventually released during Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inauguration, so as to deprive outgoing President Jimmy Carter an accomplishment and to do similar for his Republican successor.
He wondered aloud what Hamas militants are doing to the Israeli and American hostages held in Gaza, saying the Iranians beat their captives across the face with rubber hoses and committed other heinous acts.
Hermening, then 20, was the youngest of the hostages in Iran. He had been serving as a security guard at the American embassy.
Hermening said he only spent 43 of the days in solitary confinement, after attempting to escape, but said unlike many of the hostages held by Hamas and those held by Iran at the time, he was young enough not to have as many responsibilities to worry about stateside.
“I didn’t have a family. I had my mom and a dad and siblings and others in my family. But I didn’t have a wife, I didn’t have children. I didn’t have to worry about where the bills being paid [or whether] my paycheck was arriving in the bank account like so many of my colleagues did,” he said.
“For me, I think the younger you are, the easier it is to bounce back from adversity. But we have to feel for these folks who are currently being held prisoner by this Islamic terrorist group (Hamas).”
Hermening said he wishes no current hostages to be treated the way some other Westerners have been treated by Islamic terrorists.
He cited the kidnapping of Col. William Richard Higgins in Lebanon in 1988 by Hezbollah or associated militants.
A Shiite militant group later released a video purporting to be Higgins hanging to death after months of torture. His body was later recovered and returned to Quantico for a 1990 ceremony where then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney pledged to “hold those who bear responsibility for these murders to account.”
“Hopefully we won’t see that type of outcome,” Hermening told “The Story.”
“In any negotiation, you need to have two proxies; two individuals who are willing to step forward and really do a great job at negotiating in good faith. I don’t think we have that right now. Hamas definitely not should be considered that,” he said.
Anchor Martha MacCallum later asked Hermening about one U.S. military attempt to free him and his colleagues from Iran, which instead ended in the deaths of eight servicemembers.
Hermening said the attempt gave hostages hope that the United States had not forgotten them, adding he has met survivors of that mission who told him they’d do the same thing again despite the risks.
“So from my perspective, the fact that they’d tried was what kept our emotions and our morale high for the remaining eight months,” he said.
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