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Exchange of Hostage Prisoners Could Involve Hamadei Brothers

August 4, 1989
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Officials here have suggested that a deal exchanging Western hostages in Lebanon for Arabs held in Israel could also include convicted terrorists imprisoned elsewhere, specifically brothers Mohammed and Abass Hamadei, who are both in West German jails.

The officials indicated Thursday that they were carefully studying demands by the Islamic Fundamentalist group Hezbollah to free Mohammed Hamadei.

Hamadei is serving a life sentence for hijacking a TWA airliner in 1985 and killing one of its passengers, U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem.

His brother, Abass Hamadei, was convicted last year of complicity in the kidnapping of two West Germans in Lebanon. The kidnappings were part of a bid to gain the release of his brother.

German officials have maintained daily contacts with U.S. and Israeli officials handling efforts to advance possible prisoner exchanges.

West German commentators have speculated that Bonn could be tempted to use the latest events to rid itself of the burden of holding the Hamadeis in prison, which carries with it the risk of further Arab retaliation.

Meanwhile, West Germany’s education minister raised eyebrows here when he attacked Israel’s abduction of Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid at a time when West Germany itself is involved in delicate attempts to free their two citizens held in Lebanon.

In a newspaper interview, Moellemann equated Israel’s tactics with terrorism and also implied that the abduction of Western citizens in Lebanon was a result of Israel’s refusal to talk to the Palestine Liberation Organization. Moellemann is also the longtime chairman of the German-Arab Association for Friendship.

Most other West German government officials have notably refrained from criticizing Israel.

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