Kidnappers Reportedly Demand $17 Million For Release Of Two West Germans
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ The kidnappers of two West Germans held in Lebanon since last January reportedly demanded a ransom approaching $17 million Monday to free the captives, a Beirut newspaper reported.
The report in the independent An-Nahar coincided with a call for setting up an international journalistic panel to investigate last month’s abduction of American newsman Charles Glass.
An-Nahar cited no sources in its 21-word report on the West Germans, who are among 25 foreigners missing in Lebanon and presumed to be held hostage. Also missing is Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite, who vanished in Beirut in January while on a mission to negotiate for the release of foreign hostages.
Monday was the first time the Lebanese media reported that a ransom has been demanded for the release of Germans.
An-Nahar said: ″The price of the two German hostages kidnapped in Lebanon has risen since negotiations began for their release from two million marks ($1.1 million) to more than 30 million marks ($16.6 million).″
A group calling itself Holy Fighters for Freedom said in a statement on Wednesday that it held secret negotiations with West Germany to trade the two West Germans for 23-year-old Mohammed Ali Hamadi.
The West German hostages, businessman Rudolf Cordes, 53, and engineer Alfred Schmidt, 47, were kidnapped Jan. 17 and Jan. 20, respectively.
Hamadi, a Shiite Moslem, was arrested in Frankfurt on Jan. 13. He was wanted in the United States on charges of air piracy and the murder of a U.S. Navy diver aboard a TWA airliner, hijacked to Beirut in June 1985.
Bonn rejected a request for Hamadi’s extradition to the United States, apparently fearing the West German hostages would be killed.
Meanwhile, Omar Aleem, assistant secretary-general of the Union of Arab Journalists, called for the formation of a panel to probe the June 17 kidnapping of Glass.
″I have known Glass for years as a defender of the causes of justice and truth,″ said Aleem, a Syrian of Sudanese origin, in the article published Monday in Beirut by the leftist As-Safir daily newspaper.
Aleem said the panel should investigate the circumstances that led the abduction of Glass, 36, a former correspondent for ABC News, and other foreign journalists held hostage in Lebanon.
There are six other newsmen held captive. They include another American, Terry A. Anderson, 39, the chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, who was abducted March 16, 1985 and is the longest-held hostage.
The others are three Frenchmen and two Britons. The Frenchmen are: Jean- Paul Kauffmann, 42, of the weekly magazine L’Evenement du Jeudi; Jean-Louis Normandin, 34, lighting engineer for France’s Antenne-2 television network; and Roger Auque, 31, a freelance journalist and photographer.
The Britons are: John McCarthy, 31, a cameraman for the London-based Worldwide Television News; and Alec Collett, 64, a New York-based journalist who was on assignment for the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency when kidnapped March 25, 1985.
Collett’s abductors, a group calling itself the Revolutionary Organziation of Socialist Moslems, claimed last year they killed Collett but his body was not found.
Aleem suggested that the panel’s activities be sponsored by Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, spiritual guide of the Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah, or Party of God, which is believed to be an umbrella group for the organizations holding hostages.
Publicly, Fadlallah demanded the release of all foreign hostages held in Lebanon.
Nine Americans, six Frenchmen, two Britons, two West Germans, one Italian, one Irishman, one South Korean, an Indian and two unidentified foreigners are missing and presumed kidnapped in Lebanon.