Broward News

Robert Levinson, Coral Springs Man Held Hostage in Iraq for Seven Years, Turns 66 Today

Robert Levinson, the longest-held hostage in American history, turns 66 today. The former FBI agent traveled to Kish Island off the coast of Iraq in March of 2007 and went missing. Although the government and the media maintained that Levinson was in the Middle East on private business, the story finally broke in December of last year that he had actually been collecting information for a CIA analyst -- something against the rules in that organization.

The seventh anniversary of Levinson's disappearance made headlines across the world this week, although his family, who is from Coral Springs, chooses to remember the human parts of their beloved Bob rather than his entanglement in a huge intelligence scandal. His seven children remember a generous man who loved nothing more than spending time with them.

"On the days when we had to go to Sunday school, I remember the weekly routine like it was yesterday," remembers one of his sons, Dan Levinson. "I'd walk into my parents' room, and my dad would have 'Meet the Press' turned up while he'd be getting ready. My brother and I were always excited because it meant 'Shaving Time' -- we had pieces of plastic that looked just like real razors, and my dad would squirt some shaving cream into our hands to put on our faces and 'shave' off."

One of his daughters, Sarah Moriarty, remembers how Levinson would go to his mother's house every year on his birthday, where she'd inevitably give him a blue shirt. "She loved the way it made his eyes shine blue," she says.

Yesterday, the anniversary of his abduction, Levinson's family watched his favorite films: FBI Story and Animal House.

"We know he's out there, and we want him to know that we love him and want him to come home to meet his grandchildren," Moriarty says. "We hope wherever he is, he's having a happy birthday and he realizes that we will never stop looking for him and that when we bring him home, we'll celebrate every milestone together."

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Allie Conti was a fellow at Miami New Times and a staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach, where her writing won awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. She's now the senior staff writer at Vice and a contributor to the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Atlantic.