Skip to comments.Germany angers U.S. by freeing terrorist
Posted on 12/21/2005 10:31:07 AM PST by txroadkill
KEHL AM RHEIN, Germany (UPI) -- Freeing a Hezbollah member sentenced to life in prison for killing a U.S. Navy Diver may turn into yet another setback for the trans-Atlantic friendship German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to strengthen.
Mohammad Ali Hammadi last Thursday left his prison in North-Rhine Westphalia after a parole board and psychologists decided he was eligible for early release. A U.S. State Department spokesman on Tuesday said Washington was \'disappointed\' by the development.
Hammadi served nearly 19 years in prison for his involvement in the 1985 hijacking of a U.S. TWA passenger plane and the brutal killing of a man on board, Robert Stethem, a 23-year-old Navy sailor.
Orchestrated by the radical Shiite group Hezbollah, the hijacking was one of the most publicized terrorist attacks of the decade. It involved the killing of Stethem, who was dropped onto the Beirut Airport runway, and culminated in the release of more than 700 Shiite prisoners from Israel.
Hammadi was arrested at Frankfurt Airport in 1987 when security found liquid explosives in his luggage. At the time, Washington tried to get him extradited to the United States, but Germany denied the request, partly because it wanted to save the lives of several Germans held hostage in Lebanon. Hammadi was tried and convicted in a German court and sentenced to life in prison, which in Germany holds a term of 25 years.
\'We were certainly disappointed at the time that we didn`t get our hands on him then,\' State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington Tuesday. \'And we are disappointed now that he has been released before the end of his full sentence. I think it`s clear that ... we would have preferred that he stand trial in the United States.\'
There, Hammadi might have faced the death penalty.
The release couldn`t come at a worse time for Merkel, who in January is due to make her first trip to the White House as the head of the new left-right grand coalition government.
Merkel had vowed to strengthen the trans-Atlantic friendship weakened under her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, but that attempt has already been undermined by the scandal surrounding Khaled el-Masri, a German national abducted by the CIA and held in Afghanistan for five months because he was mistakenly believed to be an al-Qaida member.
German-U.S. intelligence cooperation has been further clouded by reports claiming the CIA used Germany as its main European hub for transporting terror suspects in and out of the continent.
Hammadi`s release has been a quiet affair. He was freed Thursday and on Friday flew to Beirut Airport where his family greeted him, Hammadi`s German lawyer, Gabriele Steck-Bromme, told Der Spiegel`s online edition.
She said Hammadi has turned his back on terrorism, has completed an apprenticeship in prison and wants to start a new life in Lebanon.
Some say Hammadi`s swift and silent release may be connected to the freeing of Susanne Osthoff three days later. Osthoff, a German archaeologist abducted in Iraq nearly four weeks ago, was released last Sunday.
Berlin has denied the cases are connected, and says state officials, not the federal government, are responsible for granting Hammadi parole.
Meanwhile, McCormack said Washington would aim to try Hammadi before a U.S. court, adding that it was in talks with the Lebanese government about turning him over. No extradition treaty exists between the two nations.
Tim Stuchtey, head of the HumboldtInstitution on trans-Atlantic issues, said Hammadi`s release is not likely to create a real rift between Washington and Berlin.
\'We simply have different legal systems,\' he told United Press International in a telephone interview.
Washington, however, has indicated it wasn`t satisfied with German laws.
\'According to their laws and their interpretation of the laws, he has in fact served a sentence for all the potential crimes that may have been committed. In our view, he has not,\' McCormack said.
I see the Germans are have become infected with the French disease. Cheney is right. Old Europe is dead.
We'll see how long his lifespan is. Probably pop up somewhere in the line of fire.
Just a body. And pictures released anonymously to the press...
I wonder what the German psychologists use as a standard for determining fitness for release.Is it anything like "gee,it's clear that he has the appropriate level of hatred for Bush,Cheney and Haiiburton,so I vote 'yes'"
Reformed terrorist are usually dead. We will see if he was sincere or lying to the parole board just to get out.
Maybe they will find him stuffed in a pig carcass somewhere. Where are all our right wing nuts when you need them???????
19 years? The average time served for murder in Germany is twelve. This guy got the book thrown at him.
Nineteen years is an exceedingly long prison time in Germany, pushing up against the maximum that anyone could expect to get. RAF member, terrorist, bomber and murder Irmgard Möller was released after about 18 years.
Time to assign a Phoenix team to this guy.
WTF??! Well, which is it: life behind bars or 25 years??
1. This is a state decision by a parole board or whatever.Nevertheless, this case does not pass the smell test. Why did the German government keep the release quiet? The Germans say that the US government was informed ahead of time.
2. The average "life sentence" in Germany is 15 years, so this guy's release was overdue
Why did the Bush administration keep this information quiet until it broke in the media? Was the Bush administration in cahoots with the Merkel administration to keep this terrorist's release quiet until the German hostage had been released in Iraq? Are the current protestations just for local consumption? Who is lying to whom?
Maybe (wishful thinking) they embedded a gps tracker in his skull so we can track what rat hole he scurries off to.
Hunt Mohammad Ali Hammadi down and kill him.
One AGAINST Germany, one FOR.
Let the German bashing begin. Let's see how many posts it takes to mention the....well, never mind.
So far, interesting posts.
Germany will pay for this. It always does.....double and triple what other sinning countries pay.
I bet he's on the military's hit list as we write.
There is probably a nice hefty bounty on him already...as there should be. And, perhaps on the German shrinks (Freud lovers, probably) who gave him the go-ahead for early release.