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Syrian Vows to Free U.S. Journalist : Intelligence Chief Says He'll Solve Problem 'At All Costs'

June 22, 1987|From Times Wire Services

BEIRUT — Syria's military intelligence chief in Lebanon was quoted today as vowing to free kidnaped American journalist Charles Glass and the son of Lebanon's defense minister "at all costs."

"I am here in Beirut to free them," Brig. Gen. Ghazi Kenaan was quoted as saying by state-run Beirut Radio. "The problem will be resolved at all costs, and I believe that will be accomplished soon."

Christian-controlled Voice of Lebanon radio said the kidnapers were demanding a guarantee that West Germany would not extradite Mohammed Ali Hamadi to the United States. Hamadi, a Lebanese, is accused of hijacking a TWA jet to Beirut in 1985 and killing a U.S. Navy diver.

West Germany has not announced its decision on the extradition, but security sources in Bonn today told the Associated Press that the government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl decided against extraditing Hamadi. The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the decision was based on fear for the lives of West German hostages Rudolf Cordes and Alfred Schmidt, who were kidnaped in Beirut shortly after Hamadi's arrest.

The sources said the decision will be made official in a Wednesday meeting of the West German Cabinet.

President Reagan, asked today about the reports about Hamadi while on a speaking trip to Melbourne, Fla., said, "I knew and have known that he's going to be tried for murder wherever he's tried."

Kenaan was quoted today as saying Syrian President Hafez Assad was "particularly concerned" about the abduction of Glass, Ali Osseiran and their driver in a south Beirut Shia Muslim district Wednesday.

Kenaan traveled from Damascus to Beirut on Sunday and conferred with Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, spiritual guide of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, Lebanon's most militant Shia Muslim faction. (Story, Page 6.)

Meanwhile, at least eight people were killed today in fighting in the Shia suburbs of Beirut where Glass and Osseiran are believed held.

Pro-Syrian Shia Muslim Amal militiamen fought members of the Meqdad family, a Shia clan, with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars for the second time since Friday, police said.

An Amal statement said the fighting was sparked by a personal matter and later spread to several neighborhoods in the densely populated suburbs.

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