Robert Dean Stethem is the first person we thought of when news came over the wires of the arrest in Poland of a man the Associated Press characterizes as an alleged Mossad spy, who is sought by Germany in the case of the terrorist who allegedly was murdered in a hotel room in Dubai. Stethem is the heroic United States Navy petty officer who, 25 years ago on Monday, was seized by terrorists of Hezbollah aboard a hijacked TWA aircraft, beaten, tortured, and then pushed out a door onto the Beirut airport tarmac, where he perished. Stethem is a hero because he gave his own life to save others. One of Stethem’s killer’s, Mohammed Ali Hamadi, was eventually captured in Germany. President Reagan sought his extradition to America, but the Germans refused.
Instead, the Germans themselves put Hamadi on trial and convicted him of, among other crimes, Stethem’s murder. They gave him what was supposed to be a life sentence. But, after holding him less than 20 years, they all too characteristically released the killer, an agent of the Iranian backed terrorist organization Hezbollah, and actually escorted him back freedom at the scene of the crime. One of the places where the story of the betrayal is told is in a piece in The New York Sun by Stethem’s sister-in-law, Katherine Curtis Stethem. It would be a good piece for the Polish authorities to read as they decide what to do with a request by Germany to take custody of a minor figure in a plot to defeat another terrorist organization.
The man being held by the Poles — his name, according to the Associated Press, is Uri Brodsky — is wanted in connection with the alleged murder of a leader of the military wing of Hamas, a terrorist organization backed by the same Iranian regime that backed the organization for which Hamadi worked. Why would the Germans want to help prosecute that case? Do the Germans regret the assassination that is alleged to have taken place against the leader of Hamas? Why did they refuse to hand Hamadi over to America? Why did they let Hamadi go after less than 20 years in prison? And escort him to go back to Lebanon? Where do they stand?
We don’t know whether Uri Brodsky is an agent of Massad or did or didn’t play a role in helping the Mossad in the assassination, if it was an assassination, in Dubai. But we do know that there is a broad war on against Israel and the rest of the Free World. And if Uri Brodsky is a partisan in that fight on the Free World’s side, the right thing for Poland to do would be to get him to where he can get back into the fight. If he needs transportation out of Poland, we know of a vessel that might be able to give him a lift — the guided missile destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class that sails under the name United States Ship Stethem.