As we bid farewell to the month of June, I thought it was appropriate to repost this, from June of last year (with updates):
At 10:10 a.m., June 14, 1985, TWA Flight 847
left Athens, bound for Rome. Onboard was 23-year-old Steelworker Second Class and Navy Diver, Robert D. Stethem, returning from an assignment in Greece.
Shortly after takeoff, armed Hezbollah gunmen hijacked the plane. The men allegedly had smuggled their grenades and pistols through Athens airport security.
They first demanded that the plane be flown to Beirut, taking on fuel, releasing 19 hostages, and remaining there for several hours. Next, the hijackers demanded to be flown to Algiers, where another 20 were released, and the plane remained there for another several-hour stay.
The gunmen made initial demands that all Shiites captured in Lebanon by the Israelis be released, and for condemnation of Israeli and US activities in the Middle East.
When the plane made its second ordered stop in Beirut, the hijackers did what still serves as one of the most brutal reminders of what terrorism is.
When they found out that Robert Stethem was US military, they beat him, shot him in the head, and dumped his body out of the plane onto the tarmac below.
The plane then faced the addition of several more armed terrorists. A number of passengers, whose last names sounded Jewish, were removed from the plane, but were not released. It wasn't until June 30th that all of the hostages were freed; one had been released a little earlier because of heart trouble.
One of the hijackers, Mohammed Homadi (or Mohammed Ali Hamadei)
, was convicted in Germany and sentenced to serve a life sentence.UPDATE:
But he didn't. He was released in December, 2005
. He has been indicted in the U.S.
, and is a member of Lebanese Hizballah. He's worth $5 million to whoever turns him in.
Three of the men allegedly involved in the hijacking are still at large:Imad Mugniyah
's hit parade also includes the 1983 US Embassy bombing in Beirut, and the attack on French and US Marine barracks (241 U.S. Marines killed) in that same year, among others. He also may be coordinating attacks in Iraq.UPDATE: Mugniyah
is the alleged head of the security apparatus for the terrorist organization, Lebanese Hizballah. He is thought to be in Lebanon.Ali Atwa
was actually prevented from joining the hijacking by airport authorities, but later released in exchange for hostages.UPDATE: Atwa
is an alleged member of the terrorist organization, Lebanese Hizballah. He is thought to be in Lebanon.Hasan Izz-Al-Din
is believed to still reside in Lebanon.
All three are on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list, and worth a cool $5 mil to whomever turns them in (each).
The US Navy has honored Stethem's memory by naming a destroyer for him. The USS Stethem
(DDG-63) serves as a fitting tribute to this member of a Navy family.I was 17 when Robert Dean Stethem was murdered. I will never forget it. Still, any time I think of terrorism, the image of what they did to him is the first thing that comes to my mind. And any time I hear someone act as if terrorism began with 9/11, I remember him.
January, 2003 - The first sunset of the year provides a beautiful backdrop for the guided missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS Stethem (DDG 63), USS Howard (DDG 83). The ships are decorated with holiday lights as they are moored in San Diego. U.S. Navy photo by Geoffrey Patrick.
Check out Michael Yon's post about Robert Stethem, here
, which includes his brother's thoughts on the deplorable decision to release one of his murderers.