Thomas Sutherland (academic)

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Thomas Sutherland
Born(1931-05-03)May 3, 1931
DiedJuly 22, 2016(2016-07-22) (aged 85)
Alma mater

Dr Thomas Sutherland (May 3, 1931 – July 22, 2016)[1], Dean of Agriculture at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, was kidnapped by Islamic Jihad members near his Beirut home on June 9, 1985.[2] He was released on November 18, 1991 at the same time as Terry Waite, having been held hostage for 2,353 days.[3]

Born in Falkirk, Scotland on May 3, 1931,[2] Sutherland was signed as a 17-year-old by Rangers F.C.[citation needed] Sutherland obtained a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Glasgow,[4] and moved to the United States in the 1950s.[5] He was received a master's degree and PhD in animal breeding from Iowa State University,[6] then taught animal science at Colorado State University for 26 years.[5] He moved to Beirut in 1983 for a three-year term as dean of the faculty of agriculture and food science in the American University in Beirut.[7] Despite the assassination of University President Malcolm H. Kerr and the kidnapping of Professor Frank Reiger in 1984, and despite being warned repeatedly by the State Department to leave, Sutherland remained at the University.[citation needed] Two weeks after David P. Jacobsen was abducted, Sutherland was also kidnapped while using the limousine of University President Calvin Plimpton. Upon his release, Sutherland claimed that the kidnappers mistook him for Plimpton.[8]

He was the second-longest held captive after Terry Anderson.[9] His memories of the experience were published in a book co-authored by his wife Jean, At Your Own Risk (ISBN 1555912559). He claims to have attempted suicide a number of times and to have spent a substantial amount of time in solitary confinement.[citation needed]

In June 2001, the Sutherland family won a $323 million verdict in a lawsuit against the frozen assets of the government of Iran, because of evidence that Iran had directed terrorists to kidnap Americans in Lebanon.[9][10] In accordance with Section 2002 of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, Pub.L. 106–386, Sutherland and his family received $35,041,877.36 (including interest) and the lien for the rest of the original settlement is now held by the US Government.

Sutherland died on July 22, 2016 in Fort Collins, Colorado, aged 85.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Mcphate, Mike (2016-07-24). "Thomas Sutherland, Lebanon Hostage Who Was Freed After 6 Years, Dies at 85". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  2. ^ a b "Those who remain in captivity; John McCarthy release", The Times, 9 August 1991
  3. ^ "1991: Church envoy Waite freed in Beirut". BBC News. 1991-11-18. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  4. ^ Biography at EAAP awards Archived 2006-12-22 at the Wayback Machine., 2000
  5. ^ a b "Joy and sadness in family as American hostage is freed; Release of Tom Sutherland", The Times 19 November 1991"
  6. ^ "Thomas Sutherland 2003". Iowa State University Alumni Association. 2008-11-20. Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  7. ^ "Beirut's sad roll call; Lebanese hostages", The Times 11 April 1990
  8. ^ "Envoy 'trapped by tale of illness'", The Guardian, 21 November 1991
  9. ^ a b "Beirut hostage wins damages of $323 million", The Times, 27 June 2001
  10. ^ Sutherland v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 151 F.Supp.2d 27 (D.D.C. 2001))