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Resurrection

"Resurrection" Continued...

Issue: "The waiting game," March 22, 2008

Muse sat up in his cell, found a scrap of paper, and wrote a final message to his family. Then, he says, "I folded my hands in my lap, looked at the soldier, and waited for him to shoot me."

But when sunup came, the soldier packed up his weapon and left.

"You can't imagine the joy of being alive!" Muse says now. He had had accidental near-death experiences before, but this was different: "When this happened, I had a profound sense of gratitude and an understanding that this happened for a purpose. I have been seeking that purpose since that day when God gave me a new life."

On Dec. 20, 1989, Delta Force stormed Carcel Modelo and rescued Kurt Muse. During the subsequent hunt for Noriega, Delta operators discovered that the dictator was also a religious man. But as was his style, he played both spiritual ends against the middle: In one Noriega home, Delta Force found a pair of altars, one Catholic and one satanic. On the run from U.S. forces, Noriega chose the former faith as his port of refuge, seeking asylum at the Vatican embassy in Panama City. U.S. troops kept him surrounded there until, on Jan. 3, 1990, he surrendered.

Noriega's last days

April 5 (1989): Returning to Panama from Miami, Kurt Muse is arrested under Noriega's orders.

May 7: Panama holds presidential elections, and former president Jimmy Carter, sent as an international observer, declares them fraudulent.

May 10: Noriega breaks up demonstrations protesting the election then nullifies the results.

May 11: President George H.W. Bush sends additional troops to Panama and prepares to evacuate Americans.

Aug. 31: Panama's sitting National Assembly is dissolved and Noriega's close friend Francisco Rodriguez takes over the interim government.

Sept. 1: Bush severs diplomatic ties with the country.

Sept. 4: Bush designates Noriega and various associates as Cuban agents, forbidding U.S. citizens and companies to conduct business with them.

Oct. 3: Noriega squelches an attempted coup.

Dec. 15: National Assembly declares war on United States and proclaims Noriega "maximum leader."

Dec. 20: U.S. forces invade Panama to depose Noriega, simultaneously rescuing Muse.

Jan. 3 (1990): Noriega flees to the Vatican but surrenders to U.S. troops

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