BERLIN - The German government disclosed Tuesday that it recently freed a Hezbollah member who had been convicted of hijacking a TWA airliner in 1985 and murdering a U.S. sailor, a move that allowed him to return to his native Lebanon despite long-standing requests from the United States to hand him over for trial.
Mohammed Ali Hammadi, 41, walked out of a German prison Thursday after a parole board concluded that he was eligible for early release, German officials said. Hammadi served nearly 19 years of a life sentence for air piracy, possession of explosives and the murder of Robert Dean Stethem, a U.S. sailor from Waldorf, Md. Stethem, a passenger on board TWA flight 847 from Athens to Rome, was singled out for brutal treatment by the hijackers because of his military status.
In a move proving that the new government of Lebanon has more sense and more courage than Berlin, the terrorist that tortured and killed an American Navy diver in 1985 got arrested almost immediately on his arrival. Acting in concert with US intelligence, Lebanese officials detained Mohammed Ali Hamadi and will hold him while they consider a request for his extradition to the US.