Prev | List | Random | Next
Updated from 2006-01-14 02:03:54, see below.
Via email, from Katherine Curtis Stethem:
A travesty of justice occurred last month as Germany quietly released Mohammad Ali Hammadi, a Hezbollah terrorist convicted in the brutal murder of United States Navy Diver Robert Dean Stethem during the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847. Who can forget the words of pilot John Testrake, “They have just shot a passenger. I repeat: They have just shot a passenger.” Who can forget the image of a young American being shoved out of a plane onto the tarmac?Katherine Stethem is married to Patrick Stethem, Robert’s brother.
The feeling of betrayal by the German government, our supposed ally, is overwhelming. Commutation of a convicted murderer’s sentence is bad enough, but to grant him safe passage back to his native country is unconscionable. For twenty years this family has had to live with the knowledge that the other three terrorists associated with the hijacking remain at large. Ali Atwa, Hassan Izz-Al-Din, and Imad Mugniyah have, with the assistance of rogue nations, consistently eluded capture.
Hammadi was arrested in 1987 in what was then West Germany for possession of liquid explosives in Frankfurt airport. Chancellor Kohl denied President Reagan’s requests for extradition. The United States was assured, however, of the strictest of sentences contingent upon conviction. The trial began in July of 1988. The West German government spent millions of dollars related to security for this trial. They certainly considered Hezbollah enough of a threat to spend an exorbitant amount of money for security. In May of 1989 Hammadi was found guilty of air piracy and the murder of Robert Stethem. He was also found guilty of possession of liquid explosives in West Germany. This man is a dangerous criminal. Germany has released an obvious threat back into the world. Hammadi is in his early 40’s; he has plenty of years left to wreak havoc. It’s beyond belief.
There is no reason that can be given that will suffice. There is no reason that can be given that will satisfy the question as to why such a threat to humanity would be released at all, not to mention prior to serving his full term. The release of Hammadi has denied Rob’s parents and siblings their sliver of peace in the knowledge that Rob’s brutal killer is, at the very least, incarcerated. The German government has turned a blind eye to the long standing agreement with the United States that should Hammadi be released an extradition would occur. Or, at the very least, the stage would be set, ally to ally, for a rendition.
Robert Stethem exhibited unfathomable courage and unwavering patriotism during his last hours. The Navy declared him a naval hero, evidenced by the guided missile destroyer that bears the name, USS STETHEM. The United States Congress declared Robert Stethem an American hero. When a man or a woman is formally declared a hero, that person becomes a symbol of their country; they belong to every citizen. Rob Stethem belongs to all of us. Germany’s release and Lebanon’s receipt of the murderer of an American hero is not just an insult, an affront, and a betrayal to the Stethem family. It is an insult, an affront, and a betrayal to every American.
The Hezbollah “party” is now seated in Lebanon’s parliament. Granted, the U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon, but what better way is there for Hezbollah to exhibit a desire to distance their “party” from extremists than to offer up Hammadi, a dangerous criminal, for extradition? This is an opportunity for Lebanon, the recipient of tens of millions of U.S. appropriations annually, to take a step toward peace and greater world safety. Through the offering of these tens of millions of dollars in aid every year the United States has consistently extended the hand of friendship to Lebanon. It’s time for Lebanon to return the favor. As President Bush stated regarding the war on terror, “If you are not with us, you are against us.” Should Lebanon continue to harbor Hezbollah terrorists, then Lebanon should be formally added to the State Department list of countries that sponsor terrorism and face the consequences.
Lebanon currently harbors other perpetrators of events of terror. The laundry list of such events include the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in which 220 marines and 21 other U.S. service members were killed, the murder of Col. Rich Higgins whose very date of death is uncertain but was declared dead in July of 1990, the murder of former chief CIA officer in Lebanon William F. Buckley, the abduction of American University in Lebanon professors including Terry Anderson, the 1996 bombing of the Khobar towers in Saudi Arabia in which 19 Americans were killed, and the 1983 murders of some 80 U.S. intelligence officials. These atrocities were committed by Iranian-backed Lebanese extremists. Is this list destined to grow? Hammadi needs to be the straw that breaks this camel’s back.
The best case scenario, of course, would be for Lebanon to join the United States and our true allies in zero tolerance for terrorism. Given the unholy alliance, however, between Iran and Hezbollah, such realignment appears to be a pipe dream, at best. Hezbollah, though seated in Lebanon’s parliament, is but an extension of Iran. Terrorist mastermind and network coordinator Imad Mugniyah makes Osama Bin Ladin look like a hired gun. The world is becoming increasingly dangerous every day that we allow evil and hatred to run unchecked. What are the consequences for Lebanon? What are the consequences for Iran?
I don’t presume to know what the most expedient course of action would be. Should we punish Lebanon through sanctions or elimination of aid? Do we assist Lebanon in somehow wrenching them from the grip of Iran and Hezbollah? Is that even possible? I do know this: doing nothing at all is beyond unacceptable; it is morally reprehensible. Senator Barbara Milkulski of Maryland has drafted a letter to Secretary of State Rice requesting the institution of a formal diplomatic request to Lebanon to turn over the terrorists that are being harbored therein.
We are in support of this administration’s war on terror. With heavy hearts we support this administration’s efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. We grieve for the loss of over two thousand service members and are as equally pained by knowledge of Afghani and Iraqi civilian casualties. There has been so much pain. Too many lives have been lost, on both sides, to now lose momentum by allowing Hammadi to slip through the cracks. To storm two different countries with guns blazing, and then to acquiesce to the release of a walking prototype of terror would be duplicitous and absurd. This administration’s inaction and apparent apathy regarding this event would be a slap in the face not just to the Stethem family, but to the over two thousand service men and women who have given their lives in Afganistan and Iraq, the victims of September 11, 2001, and all of the grieving families and friends left behind.
Our family’s emotions are running high. Understandably, that gives way to impatience. Nevertheless, that is where we find ourselves. We are trusting in our government to exhibit the same fortitude and integrity regarding this issue as they have with other matters of terror. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card contacted Richard and Patricia Stethem, Robert’s parents, on Christmas Eve. On behalf of the administration, Card pledged attention and support regarding this matter. The Stethem family would like to maintain confidence in this administration. That being said, we hold our government to a high standard. We expect action.
Interesting, considering Chancellor Angela Merkel's hardline stance against Iran while speaking publicly with President Bush yesterday.
Interesting too, that people would assume Lebenon would have our best interests in mind-
DPosted by D at January 14, 2006 12:06 PM
I am as angry as can be. I flipped my lid the day it happened. I have some German 'friends' who seem to think it's okay because he served his time. I immediately corrected them. That is the last time we had contact. I don't care.
You do not murder Americans and get away it. Have we learned nothing?Posted by Rosemary at January 14, 2006 08:32 PM
Are you aware of HR4686? It is an attempt to get US Foreign Policy to do right thing on behalf of Robert Stehem. I wrote about it a couple of days ago (11 Jan in "Broken Promises & HR4648) at ROFASix. Bottom line, the bill says not one red cent for Lebanon (except food, medicine, & disaster relief) until Hammadi is extradited to the US. I was disappointed about the "humanitarian" exception." I would be quite content to let those who harbor Stethem's killer starve, die of disease and sit under their rubble until they give us Hammadi.Posted by NOTR at January 15, 2006 12:13 AM
There's something else to remember, too. It wasn't that long ago that Europeans, including many Germans, were giving us grief over the execution of Tookie Williams -- as if he should have been commuted to a life sentence.
Well, now we see what they think about life sentences. It was all only B.S.
That's all I have to say.Posted by David Earney at January 15, 2006 03:57 PM
Absolutely appalling.The I shouldn't be surpised about the Euros behavior regarding life.They love their enemies more than their friends.Time to speed up the closing of our bases in Germany.Posted by Lisa Gilliam at January 16, 2006 05:19 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(6) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)