Confronting Hostage Takers: A Record of Cowardice

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By:Eugene Girin | September 05, 2014

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.



9/5/2014 06:52 PM

  Pretty sure that my post will get deleted, but I felt as if I had to say something to express my disagreement with Mr. Girin, considering that this is the second post this week in which he has denounced Hezbollah as cowards, and, what is to me even more objectionable and tendentious, portrayed Hajj Radwan as if he spent his entire life torturing and executing innocent people, and not for the most part fighting--and fighting heroically--against the occupiers, the invaders, whatever you want to call them, although of course I could be more specific, of Lebanon and of the Muslim world at large. But in any case, even if Hezbollah really were a bunch of cowards (which they clearly are not), or if Hajj Radwan really were just a murderer and a thug (which he probably was to some extent, although there is certainly much more to be said about him than that), how is any of this relevant to the ISIS anyway? I hate to say it, but it seems to me as if you were trying to leverage the barbarous crimes of the ISIS to feed ammunition to the pro-Israel propaganda machine. For what it's worth though, I agree with you that in most cases, the most effective way to deal with hostage takers is probably to emulate what you claim was the Russian response to Hezbollah in 1985, which was to take hostages in turn, castrate them, threaten them with death, threaten to bomb holy sites, etc.

Eugene Girin
Forest Hills
9/5/2014 08:07 PM

  Irving who lovingly calls the bloodthirsty Mugniyeh "Hajj Radwan", accuses me espousing pro-Israel propaganda, clearly not having read the articles attentively enough. His hero "Hyena" Mugniyeh did not only fight against the Israeli army, but as I described in both articles was an equal opportunity Mohammedan murderer. Was the murdered Soviet diplomat an Israeli occupier? How about the beaten, tortured, and executed Robert Stethem? I suspect what offended was the fact I called the actions of his beloved Hezbollah cowardly. How else to characterize the seizure of unarmed diplomats or airline passengers? What is so heroic about pumping bullets into a wounded man or beating another one almost to death with an arm rest before shooting him in the temple? Perhaps Irving should change his name to Imad in honor of his beloved "Hajj Radwan".

9/5/2014 09:11 PM

  Just to be clear, Mr. Girin, it is not with your pro-Israeli perspective that I was taking exception, but rather with your attempt to take what is occurring right now in Iraq and Syria as an excuse to further demonize Israel's enemy in Lebanon, which is pretty clearly what you are attempting to do. After all, the only other kind of person who would have an interest in attacking the reputation of Hezbollah would be some kind of Sunni-extremist. But of course, I've been reading you long enough that you are not a Sunni-extremist. Yes, you've mentioned the Russian victims of Hezbollah, but, while it might be a stretch to call Russia and Hezbollah allies, they certainly aren't enemies. Your acrimonious treatment of and distortion of the facts about Hezbollah, then, can only make sense if interpreted as Israeli propaganda. Moving on though, I agree, Hajj Radwan could fairly be described as "bloodthirsty", as you put it above. I don't object to that at all. All that I was pointing out was that there is far, far more to be said about the man than that. Which is to say, whatever his faults may have been, no one could take away from him the fact that he was probably the most formidable individual adversary Israel ever faced. As for Hezbollah, it is absurd, unambiguously absurd, to call it cowardly. Surely its methods are crude, considering that organization's limited means, and surely it must be condemned whenever it targets civilians, but just as surely it must also be recognized that Hezbollah, whatever anyone wants to say to the contrary, is not some feckless "terrorist" organization which, like the ISIS, is interested in killing people just for the sake of killing people, but is in fact an organization waging a legitimate campaign of self-defense on behalf of the Shi'ite of Lebanon against Israeli and Sunni-extremist aggression. What's more, it has for the most part waged that campaign bravely--not cowardly, but bravely--and, as well, with a fair amount of success.

Eugene Girin
Forest Hills
9/5/2014 09:27 PM

  It's hopeless to argue with someone so enamored of a group of Shiite terrorists, but nevertheless, I will make a few more points. The point of my articles was not to "demonize" poor Mugniyeh and the noble lads of Hezbollah, those wonderful freedom fighters against "Sunni aggression" and the Zionist yoke. In the first article, I drew a parallel between America's non-response to the seizure of its citizens by Mohammedan cutthroats and the robust response of Gorbachev-era Soviets. In the second one, I gave an example of the cowardly non-response of the West to the seizure and murder of its citizens by Muslim terrorists. Again, what did the Soviet diplomats have to do with Israel and its propaganda? But why bother arguing, I'll just leave Irving alone with his passionate attachment to Hezbollah.


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