German sources, the UPI is reporting, say that Susanne Osthoff, the kidnapped archeologist who was released just before Christmas, was in fact a free lance spy for her country:
These sources, admit that a ransom was paid for her release but contend that the release of Muhammad Ali Hamadi, the man who tortured and murdered Robert Dean Stetham, was a coincidence, a decision not made by the Federal Republic.
A convert to Islam and a fluent Arabic speaker, Osthoff had lived in Iraq for over a decade, and was at one time married to an Iraqi. Archeology is a classic intelligence cover: T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) posed as an archeologist in the Middle East in the early part of the last century. But archeology is Osthoff's real profession. One Washington—based German source said Osthoff had been working on arranging a rendezvous with an al—Qaida member on behalf of a German intelligence agent in Iraq. Whether the meeting ever took place has not been revealed, but another source in Berlin, reached by telephone, said experts believed that the kidnapping may have been the work of a rival group, possibly within the same organization.
A day after Osthoff's release, the Germans had quietly freed and sent home to his native Lebanon Mohammed Ali Hamadi, a Hezbollah militant serving a sentence for killing a U.S. Navy diver in a hijacked TWA jetliner in 1985. Berlin officials denied any connection between Osthoff's release and Hamadi's after serving only 19 years of a life sentence. They said Hamadi had qualified for parole and the decision to free him had been taken by the state government in North Rhine Westphalia, where he was being held, not the Federal government. He was captured in Frankfurt in 1987 for his part in hijacking the TWA jetliner and killing the American navy diver, who was a passenger on the plane. The United States requested Hamadi's extradition, but the Germans refused, and instead tried and convicted him.
But both German sources said the real deal involving Osthoff's release had been the payment of a ransom to her terrorist captors by the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The ransom and Hamadi's release could well constitute a double embarrassment for Merkel on her scheduled "maiden" visit to Washington next week. Washington has always opposed pay ransom money on the grounds that it encourages more kidnapping.
Not only does it encourage more kidnapping but it , in fact, provides the terrorists more funds with which to carry out even more bloodshed.
I'm not certain I believe the German explanation, but I am sure that Lebanon should do what Germany refused to do:extradite Hamadi to the U.S. for trial.
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