Counter-Terrorism: Justice


June 22, 2010: Pakistani intelligence reported that a recent American UAV missile attack in North Waziristan had killed Mohammed Ali Hamadi, and fifteen other Islamic terrorists. Hamadi, who had been freed from a German prison five years ago (apparently to obtain the freedom of a German archeologist, who refused German and American government advice to get out of Iraq). Letting Hamadi go caused a big stink in the U.S. Special Operations community. That's because Hamadi was one of three Hezbollah terrorists who hijacked an American airliner in 1985. When they found a U.S. Navy diver was on board, they tortured and killed him. The hijacked aircraft, and the remaining 150 passengers and crew, were eventually freed, in return for the release of over 700 Lebanese prisoners held in Israel. Hamadi was arrested two years later, while trying to smuggle explosives into Germany. He was convicted, in 1987, of hijacking and the murder of the U.S. sailor, and sentenced to life in prison. In Germany, "life" means you are eligible for parole after 15 years. But Hamadi's crime was considered so atrocious that the court recommended that he not be eligible for parole until he had been in prison for about twenty years.

Ignoring U.S. extradition requests, Germany released Hamadi after 18 years. Hamadi then went back to Lebanon. The U.S. put pressure on the Lebanese government to extradite Hamadi. In 2007, the U.S. offered a $5 million reward for Hamadi. Apparently fearful that someone in Lebanon might be tempted to go after that reward, Hamadi went to Pakistan in 2009, and was reported in Waziristan, planning new terror attacks. When he died, he was in the presence of ten other foreign (non-Pakistani) Islamic terrorists, and four from Pakistan. It's not known if anyone collected a reward for Hamadi. The U.S. will pay informants these rewards if information provided leads to the death of wanted terrorists. Several Pakistanis and Afghans have become very rich because of these rewards (and some are living in a form of Witness Protection Program as a result).

One of the most frustrating problems with the war on terror is the tendency of captured Islamic terrorists to escape, or be freed from prison. This is mainly a problem outside the United States. Germany is not alone in making deals with Islamic terrorists, if there is a more pressing situation (and lots of media and political pressure) that such a deal will take care of. In non-Western countries, jail breaks (via violence or bribes) are fairly common. In Europe, there is a tradition of quietly trading notorious terrorists if threatened with something worse. The U.S., however, rarely negotiates, and tends to put terrorists in austere, "super-max" prisons for long sentences (without parole). Al Qaeda training documents point out these differences and advise terrorists to take the increased dangers, of operating in the United States, into account. If an attack in Europe is possible, go for it, because you are more likely to be freed, if you are caught.





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