December 22, 2005

Did The Germans Cave?

German Trade-off Suspected in Release of Terrorist Killer

( - Germany freed the murderer of a U.S. Navy diver despite personal intervention by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the State Department has confirmed, amid speculation that Berlin let the Hizballah terrorist go as part of a deal to free a German hostage in Iraq.

Mohammed Ali Hamadi flew to Lebanon after being released last week, 18 years after he was sentenced to "life" imprisonment for hijacking a U.S. airliner in 1985 and killing 23-year-old Petty Officer Robert Stethem.

Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., and Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora appeared unmoved Wednesday by American requests that Hamadi be handed over. (snip)

Hamadi reportedly flew to Lebanon last Thursday. Three days later, Berlin announced that Susanne Osthoff, an archaeologist taken hostage in Iraq on Nov. 25, was safely in German hands.

"Several officials have said Osthoff's release did not involve paying ransom money, but was rather a 'diplomatic gesture.' It remains a source of speculation what that gesture was."

Officials declined to provide details of the negotiations with the hostage-takers. Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler said Monday that doing so could benefit the perpetrators of future kidnappings.

The perps have already "benefitted" Mr Erler as now they are aware that the German government will trade high value terrorist murderers for hostages.

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