The German government disclosed Tuesday that it had freed Hizballah member Mohammed Ali Hammadi, 41, who had been convicted of hijacking a TWA airliner in 1985 during which U.S. sailor Robert Dean Stethem was murdered, despite long-standing requests from the U.S. to hand him over for trial. The State Department said Tuesday that the U.S government still wanted to put Hammadi on trial.
When the plane was at the Beirut airport in Lebanon, Petty Officer Stethem was singled out because he was in the U.S. military. After many hours of being cruelly beaten, tortured, and finally killed by the terrorists, they threw his body from the plane in a final disgraceful, cowardly act. The wounds were so terrible that his body had to be identified by its fingerprints. Throughout the ordeal, Robert Stethem did not yield, and instead encouraged his fellow passengers to endure by his example. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for heroism and bravery. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery.