Journalist Sulome Anderson is based in Beirut, Lebanon and New York City.

Journalist Sulome Anderson is based in Beirut, Lebanon and New York City. 

Credit:

Josh Wood courtesy Harper Collins. 

The photo of 6-year-old Sulome Anderson in a tiny red coat clutching her father's hand was beamed around the world in 1991.

Minutes earlier she'd met her dad, Terry Anderson, for the first time. 

The family was celebrating the release of Anderson, the Associated Press bureau chief in Beirut, after nearly seven years in the hands of Shiite radicals. 

Sulome is now in her 30s and a journalist herself. In a newly released memoir, "The Hostage's Daughter: A Memoir of Family, Madness and the Middle East," she details how her father's abduction shattered her young life, and her later efforts to find his kidnappers.

Sulome spoke with us on Tuesday. Here are some highlights from her interview.

On what Terry Anderson endured in captivity:

He was blindfolded and chained pretty much all the time. He was beaten pretty regularly [and endured] psychological torture; they would put a gun to his head and tell him he was about to die but it wouldn't be loaded. When they would move him from place to place, they would wrap him in duct tape from head to toe with only his nose sticking out and throw him in a compartment under a truck. It was pretty much the worst possible circumstances you could imagine. 

On meeting her father for the first time:

We got on an Army plane and flew to Damascus, Syria where I immediately fell asleep on a couch in the American Embassy. And my father woke me up. I remember thinking he didn't look anything like I thought he would look like. And he said, 'Hi, I'm your father.' And then he took my hand, and all three of us, my mother, my father and I walked out of the embassy and into this media circus. It was just people everywhere — hundreds and hundreds of people, and noise and lights and cameras. And I just remember feeling his hand shake. And he had this big smile on his face. In all the news footage he's beaming, but I remember him sort of recoil[ing] from the noise and the lights. 

On the difficulties of being a family after her father's release:

My dad was very insistent that he was fine and unaffected by what happened. And on the surface he seemed fine. And I remember everybody saying 'Your father looks so much better than we thought he'd look.' But I think the reality was he wasn't fine at all, and his way of coping with what happened to him was to build a wall around himself while he was in captivity and it was very hard for him to come out from behind that wall and build a relationship with me. And being a child, I internalized it and thought it was my fault that my father didn't love me and that was a belief that persisted for many years. 
 
On stumbling upon one of her father's captors:

He found out who my father was after we had spent some time together. This is not to excuse anything he's done, but he was very young when it happened, he was about 17 years old and his country was being devastated by war, and he made these choices and they were horrible, wrong, evil-in-many-ways choices. But when I met him and we finally started going into what happened, it was very clear to me that he was torn between this need to justify what he did and tell himself that it was for the good of his country and his people, and the very real human shame he was feeling because he knew what he did was wrong. It was very clear to me. 

On why the kidnapper talked to her:

For a long time I couldn't figure it out. I was saying, why is this man speaking to me, he has no reason to, and every reason not to. There's still money [offered] for turning him and anyone else involved in these acts in to the FBI. And you know by the end I figured out that what he really wanted from me was forgiveness. He wanted me to forgive him. And it was not easy for me to get to the place where I felt like I could. But when I did it wasn't for his sake but it was for my sake. And it was just a very cleansing experience to let go of that anger. 

On her problems with substance abuse and mental illness:

I was diagnosed with a personality disorder in my early twenties and there is a genetic component to that obviously. But yeah, I mean, when you look at the way my psyche was developed and was formed there's no doubt that my experience and my family's experience has played a huge role in forming my self-image, which was very negative for a long time. 

On kidnappings today in the Middle East:

The ways in which Westerners are kidnapped now in Syria is completely different. The motivations are different. When my father was taken, it was because my father was valuable, his life was valuable to them. He was essentially human currency. They wanted to trade him for certain political gains or concessions, and there was Iran-Contra, the hostage deals — he was valuable to them alive. Whereas now, when ISIS kidnaps an American, it's because their death is more valuable to them than their life. 

On whether she's put the ordeal behind her:

It's very cliche to talk about how a book like this is cathartic, but it has brought my father and I much closer together. It's helped me understand what happened to him, and process my own grief and loss and damage that this event had on my life. And the funny thing about my dad is he was so convinced for so long that there was nothing wrong with him, he even convinced the professionals that were assigned to treat him that he was okay. And until I started writing this book, I think he truly believed that. But when he understood what I was writing about and saw that my experience had been quite I different I think that he started admitting to himself that he had suffered much more psychological damage than he thought. And now I just see him having all these emotions. It's like he accessed part of himself that was unavailable to him previously. 

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