Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, recently I addressed the Senate on the occasion of the conviction of Lebanese terrorist Fawaz Yunis in Federal district court. Today, I take this opportunity to call to the attention of my colleagues another important development in the battle against international terrorism. On May 17, a West German court convicted Mohammad Ali Hamadei of murder and air piracy and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The conviction of Hamadei, like the conviction of Yunis before it, sends an important message to terrorists around the world about the determination of the civilized world to root out and punish terrorist acts.
The facts of the Hamadei case shock the conscience. On June 14, 1985, Trans World Airline flight 847 departed Athens International Airport enroute to Rome, Italy with 153 passengers and crew on board, most of them Americans. Approximately 10 minutes into the flight, two hijackers, later identified as Mohammad Hamadei and Hasan 'Izz-al-din, commandeered the aircraft and ran through the plane brandishing hand grenades and a pistol while randomly striking the seated passengers on the head, neck, and shoulders with their weapons. The hijackers forced Chief Stewardess Uli Derickson to the flight deck area and gained access to the cockpit. The hijackers then pistol-whipped the flight crew inside the cockpit and ordered the pilot to fly to Algiers. The aircraft ultimately flew between Beirut and Algiers several times during the next 2 days while the hijackers retained control of the plane.
Once in control of the aircraft, the hijackers ordered Derickson to collect all passports and separate those of U.S. citizens and military personnel. The terrorists then ordered the military personnel into the first-class section one at a time for questioning, beginning with Navy diver Robert Stethem. The hijackers bound his arms together with an electrical cord, cutting off his circulation, and beat him until he was unconscious. Several other passengers were also beaten. Stethem regained consciousness, only to be shot in the head in cold blood. The hijackers dumped his body onto the tarmac in Beirut before several more hijackers boarded the plane for its flight back to Algiers.
The terrorists eventually abandoned the plane after its final landing in Beirut. Thirty-nine passengers were removed from the aircraft and held hostage in various locations in Beirut for 17 additional days before they finally were freed on June 30, 1985.
Hamadei, a Lebanese Shiite Muslim, was arrested in Frankfurt, West Germany. A number of the Members of this body, including this Senator, believe that the West Germans should have extradited Hamadei to the United States to stand trial in Federal district court, but that did not come to pass. While I regret the West German decision not to honor our extradition request, I commend the Germans for bringing this terrorist to justice and I applaud the West German court for imposing the maximum sentence of life imprisonment upon Hamadei.
Mr. President, the Mohammad Hamadei case has significant ramifications for our ongoing efforts to thwart terrorism. At my urging, the 99th Congress passed the Terrorist Prosecution Act, a law extending the reach of American criminal jurisdiction to extraterritorial acts of violence against American nationals (P.L. 99-399, title XII, codified at 18 U.S.C. 2331). Because of the ex post facto clause of the Constitution, Mohammad Hamadei could not have been prosecuted for his 1985 terrorist acts under this 1986 criminal statute. Had he been extradited, Hamadei would have faced other charges. Nonetheless, there is now a more complete set of criminal statutes designed to safeguard Americans overseas by deterring those who would contemplate violence against American nationals.
There is another important lesson to be learned from the Hamadei and Yunis cases. The time is ripe for the United States to enter into multilateral treaty negotiations to define terrorism as an international crime and to establish an international forum in which such offenses may be prosecuted. The West German Government came under tremendous pressure to reject the American request for extradition of Hamadei. West German citizens were even taken hostage in the Middle East during this period. The German Government decided to try Hamadei itself, but it would not have been faced with this difficult choice had there been an international forum to which Hamadei could be extradited.
In 1986, the Congress adopted my amendment to the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorist Act calling on the President to pursue negotiations to establish an international court to try terrorists. I also authored section 4108 of the Omnibus Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 which calls upon the President to pursue negotiations to establish an international court with jurisdiction over international drug trafficking and other violations of international criminal law.
I am pleased that this particular case has reached a satisfactory conclusion, but the effort to bring such international outlaws to justice must be institutionalized. My disucssions with a variety of foreign leaders persuades me that the civilized international community is prepared to speak with one voice to condemn terrorism. The creation of an international criminal court with jurisdiction over terrorism, hijacking, crimes against humanity, and international drug trafficking would be an eloquent expression of that condemnation.
For today, I commend Judge Heiner Mueckenberger and the West German criminal justice system for convicting Mohammad Hamadei and imposing the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. For tomorrow, I pledge to continue my efforts to bring the force of international law to bear upon the scourge of international terrorism and urge my colleagues to join me in this effort.