A U.S. army reserve officer who was savagely beaten during the 1985 TWA hijacking testified Friday that Lebanese defendant Mohamad Ali Hamadi led the terrorist operation in which a Navy diver was killed.
"It was very apparent to me that Hamadi was in charge" during the 17-day ordeal, hijack victim and Army Reserve officer Kurt L. Carlson, told the Frankfurt juvenile court Friday. "I assumed he was in charge because he gave the orders."Hamadi admitted in court in August that he helped hijack TWA Flight 847 to Beirut on June 14, 1985, to force the release of Shiite Muslims held in Israel, but he blamed the murder of U.S. Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem on an accomplice who is not in custody.
Another American hijack victim, Peter Hill, testified Wednesday that Hamadi "gloated" over the shooting death of Stethem in conversations with passengers.
Hamadi, who could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted, is charged with air piracy and murder in Frankfurt, where he was caught in January 1987 as he carried explosives into Germany after a flight from Beirut. The West German government refused to extradite Hamadi to face charges in the United States for fear of retaliation against West German hostages in the Lebanese capital.
Carlson, a roofing and construction contractor from Rockford, Ill., told the court he was returning from a reserve assignment in Cairo, Egypt, to rejoin his wife and baby daughter on what would have been his first Father's Day when he boarded the ill-fated flight in Athens.
Carlson, 41, said he tried to conceal his identity as a military man, but Hamadi found his red military passport in a search of clothing and segregated him and other servicemen, including Stethem, from the other passengers.
Carlson said when Hamadi found the military passport, he "put his gun to my forehead" and demanded: "CIA or FBI?"
Carlson, a balding, broad-shouldered former athlete, sat with his back to reporters behind bulletproof glass as he recounted the horrors of the hijacking.