By: Sharon Aron Baron
It’s not the kind of milestone that anyone cares to celebrate, but it is one that begs to be remembered: Coral Springs resident Bob Levinson has now been held hostage longer than any other person in U.S. history including Terry Anderson.
Robert “Bob” Levinson, is an American private investigator and retired FBI agent who was taken hostage on March 9, 2007, when visiting Iran’s Kish Island while researching a cigarette smuggling case. This Thanksgiving, his wife, seven children, grandchildren and other family members will celebrate the holidays once more without him.
No one would have predicted this terrible moment more than six and a half years ago when Bob disappeared. Our family will soon gather for our seventh Thanksgiving without Bob, and the pain will be almost impossible to bear. Yet, as we endure this terrible nightmare from which we can not wake, we know that we must bear it for Bob, the most extraordinary man we have ever known. To whoever is holding Bob, I ask again for your mercy. Please let him go to reunite with his family.
Bob, if somehow you see or hear these words: Stay strong. You have a new grandson, just a month old. We can’t wait for you to meet him. We love you and will never stop working to bring you home safely.” – Statement from Christine Levinson
A little over three weeks after Levinson was kidnapped, an article by Iranian state-run PressTV stated that he “has been in the hands of Iranian security forces since the early hours of March 9,” and “authorities are well on the way to finishing the procedural arrangements that could see him freed in a matter of days.”
In 2010, Levinson said the family received “irrefutable proof” that he was still alive via a video tape. In the video, Levinson appeared to have lost considerable weight, and repeatedly pleads for help in returning home. “In the video, in which he appears frail and visibly thinner than the 220 pounds he weighed when he was taken, my dad pleads for the U.S. government to help secure his release. In the photos, which were e-mailed to us, he is shackled. He has an unkempt beard and holds cryptic messages, the intended meaning of which we still do not understand,” said his son Dan Levinson in the Washington Post. Since that time they have not received any more videos or any substantial leads.
In January, the Associated Press reported that “the consensus now among some U.S. officials involved in the case is that despite years of denials, Iran’s intelligence service was almost certainly behind the 54-second video and five photographs of Levinson that were emailed anonymously to his family. The tradecraft used to send those items was too good, indicating professional spies were behind them, the officials said. While everything dealing with Iran is murky, their conclusion is based on the U.S. government’s best intelligence analysis.”
President Hassan Rouhani was recently elected president of Iran replacing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. CNN reported on September 27, that President Barack Obama, during his phone call with the new president, “noted our concern about three American citizens who have been held within Iran — Robert Levinson, Saeed Abedini, and Amir Hekmati — and seeing those Americans reunited with their families.”
Bob and his wife Christine are 29-year residents of Coral Springs, and all of their children attended local Broward County Public Schools.
In March 2012, approaching the five-year anniversary of Levinson’s captivity, the FBI offered a $1 million reward for information leading to his safe recovery and return. In addition, a campaign was launched, using billboards, radio messages, flyers, and a telephone hotline to publicize this reward and obtain information of his whereabouts.
Each day, his Facebook page is updated by his children with the number of days their father is held in captivity and a memory or two about him. The page now has over 10,000 faithful followers who have suffered along with the family’s journey in the hopes of finding some answers, somewhere.To follow the families Facebook page: Help Bob Levinson Official Website: Help Bob Levinson Twitter: Help Bob Levinson