This letter from Ken Stethem to President George W Bush is a must read. Ken Stethem is the brother of Robert Stethem, US Navy Diver, who was killed during the hijacking of TWA flight 847. His killer Muhammed Ali Hammadi was recently released from Germany in exchange for German held by terrorists in Iraq. The letter is a powerful reminder of the real meaning of courage and duty and asks important questions of our President. I hope that Hammadi is looking over his shoulder. From NRO
Date: January 8, 2006 4:15:57 PM PST
Subject: ROBERT DEAN STETHEM
I would like to provide you with an explanation as to why Muhammed Ali
Hammadi's recent release by Germany, and your Administration's lack of any
attempt to prevent it, is so upsetting to our family and to Americans
everywhere. I am not writing you out of grief or anger but out of a hope that
his example will inspire you to follow act on your own words and the dictates of
your conscious in this War on Terror.
Robert Dean Stethem was singled out, beaten beyond recognition and tortured
in order to make him scream into a transmitter (so that the tower would send a
fuel truck). Not a cry was heard to come from him, despite the brutal beating he
endured. Instead he chose to remain silent and endure the beatings because he
knew that the only way a rescue attempt could be conducted by U.S. forces was if
the aircraft remained on the ground.
After Robert was beaten and tortured and bleeding from puncture wounds all
over his body, he was placed next to a 16-year old Australian girl. As bad as
Robert was beaten, he had the courage and strength to comfort and console her.
He told her that, "She would be okay and that she would get out of here alive."
When she tried to return the comfort, he said, "No, I don't think so. I am the
only one in my group that is not married and some of the guys have children,
too." Some time later, Robert was again taken up to the cockpit and tortured in
order to get the fuel. But it didn't work, he would not give in to them.
One of the hijackers, Muhammed Ali Hammadi, was so enraged that he dragged
Robert to the door, pulled a trigger and shot Robert in the head. Then he dumped
Robert's body onto the tarmac. While Robert was being dragged to the door, he
knew that all he had to do in order to live was to cry into that transmitter,
but he wouldn't do it. He would not give in to the demands of the terrorists. He
would not allow the honor and dignity of America to be intimidated by the fear
and pain that Hammadi and terrorists everywhere represent. Robert sacrificed his
life in order to protect our liberty and defend our way of life.
You have rightly said, "Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring
justice to our enemies, justice will be done." You have truly said that "We are
in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them."
Robert lived by them. Robert also died by them. The motto of the USS SSTETHEM (DDG-63)
in Robert's honor, is "Steadfast and Courageous." I hope that his example, and
the example of other heroes like him can inspire you to understand why allowing
Germany to release Hammadi was a wrong. Justice was not done, Robert was not
honored and Americans are not safer by allowing Hammadi to return to Lebanon and
Hezbollah. You know this, we know this and the American people know this.
The Stethem family