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Confronting Hostage Takers: A Record of Cowardice

The beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff by ISIS led to outraged declarations by this country's leaders. "When people harm Americans, we don't retreat, we don't forget. We take care of those who are grieving. And when that is finished, they should know: We will follow them to the Gates of Hell, until they are brought to justice, because Hell is where they will reside!", howled the habitually unhinged Biden. Obama for his part, was more restrained, vowing that "those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served". 

One wishes to believe that tough words will turn into tough actions. Unfortunately, past events prove otherwise. Consider a hostage-taking tragedy that unfolded in 1985 and is forever seared into the memories of older Americans: the hijacking of TWA Flight 847. The airplane was seized by Shiite terrorists from Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad en route from Athens to Rome. During the three-day hostage crisis, the hijackers savagely beat, tortured, and eventually shot dead twenty-three-year-old US Navy diver Robert Stethem; and humiliated, intimidated, and threatened the unfortunate passengers, making a point of separating those with Jewish-sounding names from the others.

About two decades ago, I remember watching the 1986 action movie Delta Force, starring Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin, based on the events of the hijacking. In the film, the brave soldiers of the Delta Force assisted by Israeli intelligence operatives whose source was a sympathetic Greek Orthodox priest in Lebanon, freed the hostages and wiped out the cowardly Shiite thugs. In reality, the outcome was rather inglorious. The terrorists were allowed to escape unharmed and their key demand - the release of 700 Lebanese Shiite prisoners of Israel was met.

Four of the hijackers were identified as Imad "Hyena" Mugniyeh, a senior Hezbollah chief; Ali Atwa, Hassan Iz-Al-Din, and Mohammed Hammadi. Mugniyeh met his well-deserved and much delayed end when he was blown to bits in Beirut six years ago, most likely by Mossad operatives. Iz-Al-Din and Atwa are still in the wind, most likely in Lebanon. And Hammadi's subsequent fate only underlined the unpardonable cowardice of the West's response to the TWA hijacking. He was arrested in Frankfurt less than two years later for smuggling explosives and was sentenced to life in prison, the Reagan administration preferring to let the Germans try him. However, after serving 19 years, he was released to Lebanon by the German authorities, most likely in exchange for the release of a German archeologist held hostage in Iraq. Like Atwa and Iz-Al-Din, he is likely hiding out somewhere in Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon.

If the usually tough Gipper folded to the terrorists' demands and did not take appropriate measures to neutralize the terrorists later, what can one expect from the pusillanimously incompetent O-bummer. This tough talk will go on for a few weeks at most and then it will be back to business as usual: Muslim terrorists seizing Western hostages and butchering them on camera, giving a bloody middle finger to the hated kafirs.

Eugene Girin

Eugene Girin is a New York-based attorney and commentator.

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