Greek police arrest man suspected of 1985 TWA hijacking
The FBI has offered a £5 million reward for information leading to the capture or conviction of Mohammed Ali Hamadi, pictured
June 14, 1985 – Two Shiite gunmen hijack the Boeing 727 shortly after it takes off from Athens, Greece, bound for Rome with 145 passengers and eight crew members aboard.
The plane is allowed to land in Beirut, Lebanon, after the pilot says one hijacker has pulled the pin on a grenade. The hijackers free 19 American women and children, then fly to Algeria where 19 American women, one American child and three people of other nationalities are released.
June 15 – The aircraft returns to Beirut, where some passengers are taken off. The hijackers beat and shoot to death Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem, 23.
After ordering the plane back to Algiers, the hijackers release 53 passengers and flight attendants. The hijackers win the release of a comrade arrested at the Athens airport.
June 16 – A letter signed by 29 passengers appeals to President Reagan to refrain from ‘any direct military action on our behalf’.
The Shiite Amal militia moves into the crisis, demanding freedom for more than 700 Lebanese prisoners held by Israel.
The remaining passengers are taken off the aircraft.
June 17 – Amal leader Nabih Berri says the hostages have been split up to thwart a rescue mission. National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane says Berri ″has in his hands the ability to end the hijacking.″
Ailing hostage Robert Peel Sr. of Hutchinson, Kansas is released.
June 18 – The hijackers release Greek singer Demis Roussos, his American companion Pamela Smith, and Greek-American Arthur Targon Tsidis.
At a news conference, President Reagan says that any retaliation ‘would probably be sentencing a number of Americans to death’. Reagan accuses the Greek government of lax airport security.
June 20 – Five hostages appear at a chaotic news conference and appeal to Reagan ‘at all costs’ to refrain from a rescue mission. Allyn Conwell, 39, of Houston, Texas, says he wants Israel to free the Lebanese prisoners.
Stethem is buried at Arlington escort National Cemetery.
June 24 – Israel releases 31 Shiite prisoners, insisting there is no linkage to the hostages in Lebanon. Amal leaders dismiss the gesture as insufficient to bring about the release of the Americans, and Berri demands that U.S. ships pull back.
June 25 – The British and Italian ambassadors meet Berri, and Syria takes a public role in negotiations.
White House spokesman Larry Speakes says Reagan is considering forcing Beirut airport to close and blockading Lebanon.
Amal gathers all 37 hostage passengers together to meet two International Red Cross officials, and the three crew members are visited separately.
June 26 – Berri releases hostage Jimmy Dell Palmer, 48, who suffers from a heart condition. He also suggests putting the hostages in a Western embassy in Beirut or moving them to Syria, in exchange for the release of Israel’s Shiite detainees.
June 28 – Berri holds a farewell banquet for most of the hostages at a luxury hotel amid signs that behind-the-scenes diplomacy and Syrian influence have led to an agreement to free them.
June 29 – The hostages’ release is delayed by a demand from Shiite leaders for U.S. and Israeli guarantees that they won’t be any retaliation.
June 30 – The Americans leave for Damascus in a Red Cross convoy.
July 1 – The freed Americans depart aboard a U.S. military plane for Frankfurt, West Germany, where they are greeted by Vice President George Bush. They proceed to a U.S. military hospital in Wiesbaden, where they are met by friends and relatives.