BONN — West German police have arrested the brother of a Lebanese held in the hijacking of an American airliner, government officials said Tuesday.
The officials said that Abbas Ali Hamadi was seized Monday at Frankfurt airport on his arrival from Beirut. Police declined to say what charges are to be brought against him.
He was identified as the older brother of Mohammed Ali Hamadi, who was arrested two weeks ago, at the same airport, on suspicion of complicity in the hijacking of a Trans World Airlines jetliner in June, 1985. A U.S. Navy diver aboard the plane was killed in the incident.
The U.S. government has asked that Mohammed Ali Hamadi be extradited to the United States to stand trial on charges of air piracy and murder.
Since Mohammed Ali Hamadi's arrest, a number of Westerners, including at least two West Germans and three Americans, have been abducted in Beirut, presumably as hostages to be used as leverage to gain the release of Hamadi.
There have been unconfirmed reports that another brother, Abdul-Hadi Hamadi, is an official in the extremist Shia Muslim group called Hezbollah (Party of God), which is headquartered in Lebanon and is believed to have been behind the hijacking of the TWA jet.
Official sources said Tuesday that after the arrest of Abbas Ali Hamadi, police raided the house where he had been living in Merzig-Brodorf, in the Saarland near the French border. They took two other men into custody, one of whom was shot and wounded while attempting to escape and was taken to a hospital, the sources said. Neither man was identified.
Flew Via Geneva
Abbas Ali Hamadi has a German wife but reportedly is separated from her. He is thought to be about 30, has not been in West Germany since his brother's arrest and, according to the newspaper Bild, returned Monday from Beirut on a flight via Geneva.
Police officials would not discuss what charges may be brought against him, pointing out that Chancellor Helmut Kohl has imposed a blackout on news concerning the accused hijacker, the Germans being held hostage in Lebanon and the effort to arrange for their release.
Kohl briefed parliamentary leaders on the situation Tuesday, but no one present would disclose what was said.
The issue is politically sensitive. Some commentators have suggested that Bonn should release accused hijacker Hamadi in exchange for the abducted West Germans, despite the U.S. request for extradition.
Sources here have said they believe that the people in Lebanon who abducted the West Germans are relatives of Hamadi, who was arrested after his arrival from Beirut. He was detained because he brought with him a number of wine bottles containing explosives. Later, his fingerprints were matched with those of the fugitive hijacker.
Without providing further details, the West German government has said that a "middleman" has made contact with the Germans' abductors.
The U.S. Justice Department says that Mohammed Ali Hamadi was involved in the 1985 hijacking of a TWA plane that was en route from Athens to Rome and was diverted to Beirut. Many of the passengers were allowed to leave the plane, but 39 Americans were held for 16 days.