Suspect in 1985 plane hijacking arrested in Greece

TWA Flight 847 out of Athens to Rome has been hijackedImage copyright
Alain Nogues/Getty

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The flight was hijacked right after taking off from Athens

A 65-year-old Lebanese man suspected of involvement in the hijacking of an American airliner in 1985 has been arrested in Greece, police say.

The man, who has not been named, was detained on Mykonos after disembarking from a cruise ship on Thursday.

His identity came up as being wanted by Germany during a passport check.

The TWA Flight 847 was seized by militants thought to belong to the Islamist group Hezbollah, a claim they denied. A US navy diver was killed.

The man was wanted by German authorities for the hijacking as well as a kidnapping committed in 1987.

He is currently being held in a high-security prison in Greece until German officials identify him as the person wanted, Reuters news agency reports.

Two years after the hijacking, the suspect was reportedly arrested and tried in Germany and later exchanged with two Germans who had been abducted in Beirut.

Image copyright
Joel Robine/Getty

Image caption

The plane was forced to land in Beirut

The Trans World Airlines flight from Cairo to San Diego with stops in Athens, Rome, Boston and Los Angeles was hijacked on 14 June 1985 after taking off from Athens, and forced to land in Beirut.

The plane’s 153 passengers and crew members were kept as hostages for 17 days. They were tied and beaten by the hijackers, who demanded the release of hundreds of Lebanese Shia detainees in Israeli custody.

When the prisoners were not released, 23-year-old US Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem, who was one of the hostages, was shot dead and his body was thrown onto the tarmac at Beirut airport.

The hijackers then began to release their hostages.

According to the FBI, at least four people were involved in the hijacking. Mohammed Ali Hamadei was arrested in Germany in 1987 and, after his release in 2005, returned to Beirut.

Imad Mughniyeh was killed in a 2008 bombing in Damascus, while Hassan Izz-Al-Din and Ali Atwa have remained at large.

The 1986 film The Delta Force is based on the hijacking.

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