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Mohammed Ali Hamadei, 2005

Mohammed Ali Hammadi (Arabic: محمد علي حمادي‎) aka Mohammed Ali Hamadi and Mohammed Ali Hamadei, (born June 13, 1964 in Lebanon) is a wanted criminal. A Lebanese citizen and alleged member of Hezbollah (aka Lebanese Hizballah), he was convicted in a West German court of law of air piracy, murder, and possession of explosives for his part in the June 14, 1985 skyjacking of TWA Flight 847.[1]

Under indictment by US law enforcement for crimes related to the same hijacking, during which one passenger, U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, was extensively tortured prior to being murdered, Hammadi was sentenced to life imprisonment by the West German court. He was imprisoned in 1987 in West Germany for 19 years, but was abruptly paroled in 2005, and now remains a fugitive from the United States Department of Justice, which listed him as one of the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists in 2006. He is believed to currently reside in Lebanon, where he may have rejoined Hezbolla.

There has been speculation that his parole was granted as part of a covert prisoner swap, in exchange for the release of Susanne Osthoff. Taken hostage in Iraq a month prior, Osthoff was released the week of Hammadi's parole.[2]

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Imprisoned in West Germany

Two years after the TWA Flight 847 attack, Hammadi was arrested in Frankfurt, West Germany in 1987 while attempting to smuggle liquid explosives. In addition to the charges in West Germany of illegal importation of explosives, he was charged with the 1985 hijacking and hostage taking; tried and convicted of Stethem's 1985 murder, he was sentenced to life in prison. [3]

Mohammed Ali Hamadei, 1985 Mohammed Ali Hamadei, 1985


The first opportunity for parole to be granted on a life sentence in Germany is ordinarily after 15 years. However Hammadi's life sentence included a provision that due to an exceptional grave degree of guilt the first parole review was to be later. The Landgericht (regional court) Kleve decided on November 30, 2005, to grant Hammadi's application for parole, after his having served 19 years of his term.[4] The US government is now seeking his extradition from Lebanon.

Fugitive in Lebanon

Mohammed Ali Hamadei, 2004

His indicted accomplices in the TWA Flight 847 attack, Hassan Izz-Al-Din, and Ali Atwa continue to elude arrest and currently remain at large, having been placed among the original 22 fugitives on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list on October 10, 2001, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Another accomplice, Imad Mughniyeh, was killed on February 12, 2008 in a car-bombing attack in Damascus, Syria. Those responsible for this attack remain unknown as of February 13, 2008.

As of February 14, 2006 the United States federal government, through the ambassador to Lebanon, had formally asked the Lebanese government to extradite Mohammed Ali Hammadi for the murder of Robert Stethem during the 1985 hijacking.[5]

On February 24, 2006, he joined his accomplices on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list, under the name Mohammed Ali Hamadei.[6]

Several news outlets[7] reported the announcement by Hezbollah of the death of Imad Mugniyah by explosion in Syria on February 13, 2008. The remaining three fugitives from TWA Flight 847 remain on the list, and at large.

On September 12, 2006, a "Bush administration official" indicated that Hammadi had rejoined Hezbollah upon his release from German prison.[8]

On February 12, 2007, the FBI announced[9] a new $5 million reward for information leading to the recapture of Hammadi.

References

External links

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