20 Dec 2005

Germany Trades Terrorist for Hostage

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The Scotsman, and numerous other news outlets, are reporting on Germany’s release of Mohammad Ali Hammadi, a Hezbollah terrorist previously sentenced to life in prison for the murder of US Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem in the course of a hijacking in 1985.

GERMANY has quietly released a Hezbollah member jailed for life for the murder of a US Navy diver, disregarding Washington’s desire that he be extradited or remain behind bars, officials said yesterday.

The government said there was no link between Mohammad Ali Hammadi’s release and that of a German hostage in Iraq just days later.

“He served his term,” Eva Schmierer, a spokeswoman for Germany’s justice ministry, told a news conference.

Sources in Berlin and Beirut said that Mohammad Ali Hammadi, who was convicted of killing Robert Dean Stethem in Beirut during the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight and sentenced to life in prison, was flown to Lebanon last week.

The US did submit an extradition request to the West German government in 1987, but it was turned down since Hammadi could have faced the death penalty in America.

Still, several diplomats said that if he could not be extradited, the Americans had wanted Hammadi to remain behind bars for the murder of Mr Stethem, whose battered corpse was thrown out of the TWA plane by the hijackers after they had shot him.

The diplomats said that the release could complicate relations between Germany and the US, which have pledged to co-operate against terrorism.

The US embassy in Berlin made no comment on Hammadi’s release, which came shortly before Susanne Osthoff was freed in Iraq.

The 43-year-old archaeologist had disappeared last month. Germany said on Sunday she was in safe custody.

The foreign ministry denied any Hammadi-Osthoff link, saying: “There is no connection between these two cases.”

Depkafile, the Jerusalem-based news and rumor source, whose reports are not always found to be reliable, and which is believed by many to function as a mouthpiece for Mossad, is affirming the German prisoner release was indeed a hostage trade arranged by the newly-appointed head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, and that the German betrayal of the United States constitutes the beginning of a campaign to promote German influence in the Middle East:

Ernst Uhrlau, Angela Merkel’s new head of the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, is revealed by DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources as the man behind Berlin’s secret decision to trade German archeologist Susanne Osthoff kidnapped in Iraq on Nov. 25 for the jailed Hizballah terrorist wanted in America, Mohammad Ali Hammadi.

Frankly, I believe Depkafile this time, and I sincerely hope the Bush Administration takes appropriately serious diplomatic and trade-related steps to punish Germany. We really should also have had some non-pouting US spooks waiting for this guy’s arrival in Lebanon to provide him with a free one way trip to a destination of our choice.

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