Congressman Vito Fossella is demanding that Lebanon hand over to the United States Mohammed Ali Hamdi, who brutally tortured and murdered U.S. Navy Petty Officer Robert Dean Stehem in 1985, helping to usher in the era of brutal Islamicist terror.
Germany released him to Lebanon, after serving only 18 years of life sentence, related to the hijacking of TWA flight 847, and the singling out of Stethem for cruel murder. No official reason for Germany's release has been provided, but copincidentally or not, a German hostage in Iraq was released shortly after Hamdi was.
Lebanon is claiming double jeapordy, and refusing to turn Hamdi over. Congressman Fossella is threatening to shut off the current $35 million per year in aid to Lebanon. His eloquent statement of purpose speaks for itself:
America's path is clear: We will pursue terrorists wherever they seek refuge. No individual responsible for the taking of an American life should evade the judgment of an American court. Lebanon can choose to be either a partner in ridding the scourge of terrorism or another obstacle that cowers to the most radical elements of society.
The question is whether Lebanon is up to the task.
Michael Ledeen features the letter written by Kenneth Stehem, brother of Robert Dean Stehem to President George W. Bush.
Subject: ROBERT DEAN STETHEM
I would like to provide you with an explanation as to why Muhammed Ali Hammadi's recent release by Germany, and your Administration's lack of any attempt to prevent it, is so upsetting to our family and to Americans everywhere. I am not writing you out of grief or anger but out of a hope that his example will inspire you to follow act on your own words and the dictates of your conscious in this War on Terror.
Robert Dean Stethem was singled out, beaten beyond recognition and tortured in order to make him scream into a transmitter (so that the tower would send a fuel truck). Not a cry was heard to come from him, despite the brutal beating he endured. Instead he chose to remain silent and endure the beatings because he knew that the only way a rescue attempt could be conducted by U.S. forces was if the aircraft remained on the ground.
After Robert was beaten and tortured and bleeding from puncture wounds all over his body, he was placed next to a 16—year old Australian girl. As bad as Robert was beaten, he had the courage and strength to comfort and console her. He told her that, "She would be okay and that she would get out of here alive." When she tried to return the comfort, he said, "No, I don't think so. I am the only one in my group that is not married and some of the guys have children, too." Some time later, Robert was again taken up to the cockpit and tortured in order to get the fuel. But it didn't work, he would not give in to them.
One of the hijackers, Muhammed Ali Hammadi, was so enraged that he dragged Robert to the door, pulled a trigger and shot Robert in the head. Then he dumped Robert's body onto the tarmac. While Robert was being dragged to the door, he knew that all he had to do in order to live was to cry into that transmitter, but he wouldn't do it. He would not give in to the demands of the terrorists. He would not allow the honor and dignity of America to be intimidated by the fear and pain that Hammadi and terrorists everywhere represent. Robert sacrificed his life in order to protect our liberty and defend our way of life.
You have rightly said, "Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done." You have truly said that "We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them." Robert lived by them. Robert also died by them. The motto of the USS SSTETHEM (DDG—63), named in Robert's honor, is "Steadfast and Courageous." I hope that his example, and the example of other heroes like him can inspire you to understand why allowing Germany to release Hammadi was a wrong. Justice was not done, Robert was not honored and Americans are not safer by allowing Hammadi to return to Lebanon and Hezbollah.
You know this, we know this and the American people know this.
The Stethem family