- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 21, 2001

VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) Six survivors and the relatives of the man killed in the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 are expected to get their day in court tomorrow against the Iranian government in a $500 million lawsuit accusing the country of sponsoring terrorism.
The case has been pending for a year in U.S. District Court in Washington and has taken on added significance since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Three of the hijackers in the 1985 incident apparently had ties to Osama bin Laden. Iranian officials have failed to respond to the lawsuit and are not expected to be in court, the Virginian-Pilot reported.
The lawsuit was filed last November under the federal anti-terrorism act of 1996, which enables victims of international terrorism and their families to sue terrorists and their sponsors.
The U.S. government has set aside $450 million to pay the awards but is seeking reimbursement. The United States holds $1 billion in frozen Iranian assets, but those funds are tied up in international litigation, the newspaper reported.
More than $213 million has been awarded to eight families from other terrorist acts in a series of lawsuits against Iran in the past year.
This lawsuit was filed by Tony and Pamala Watson, formerly of Virginia Beach; Clinton Suggs of Indiana, and his wife, Chantal J. Gauthier of Virginia Beach; Jeffrey Ingalls, formerly of Virginia Beach; Stuart and Martha Dahl, of Hayes in Gloucester County; Kurt and Cheryl Carlson of Illinois; and Kenneth Bowen, formerly of Virginia Beach.
The plaintiffs have declined interviews until after the trial.
TWA Flight 847, en route to Rome from Athens with 153 people on board, was hijacked June 14, 1985, by two Lebanese Shiites. The two men, armed with guns and grenades, commandeered the plane to Beirut, then back and forth to Algiers twice.
The hijackers demanded that Israel release 766 prisoners, most of them Shiites.
During the ordeal, Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem was killed and his body tossed onto the tarmac at a Beirut airport.
Passengers were released gradually, until 39 Americans remained. During the 17-day affair, hostages were beaten, and mock executions were held.
On June 30, after Israel agreed to release 300 Shiite prisoners, the hostages were freed, and the hijackers escaped.
According to the FBI, three of the hijackers, Imad Mugniyah, Hassan Izz-Al-Din and Ali Atwa, have been linked recently to bin Laden's terrorist network. They are under federal indictment but have not been located.

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