The American Gazette

Commonsense political and social commentary from "Flyover Country"

Location: Rural Michigan, United States

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Islamist Terrorism, Wait we are not even through the 80's!

The Achille Lauro was a passenger liner, most remembered for its 1985 hijacking.
Ordered in 1938, her keel was laid in 1939 at Vlissingen, Netherlands, for Rotterdamsche Lloyd. Interrupted by World War II and two bombing raids, the ship was not launched until July 1946 as the Willem Ruys. Completed in late 1947, she began her maiden voyage on December 2, 1947. She was 192 metres in length, 25 metres in beam, 8.9 metres high and weighed 21,110 tons fully loaded with 900 passengers and crew. In 1964 she was sold to the Lauro Line and renamed the Achille Lauro. Extensively rebuilt and modernized, she entered service in 1966.
On October 7, 1985, four men representing the Palestine Liberation Front took control of the liner off Egypt while she was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said in Tunisia. This has been linked to the Israeli bombing of the PLO headquarters in Tunis on October 1.
The hijackers had been surprised by a crew member and acted prematurely. Holding the passengers and crew hostage, they directed the vessel to sail to Tartus, Syria, and demanded the release of fifty Palestinians then in Israeli prisons. Refused permission to dock at Tartus, the hijackers killed one wheelchair-bound passenger – the American Leon Klinghoffer – and threw his body overboard. The ship headed back towards Port Said, and after two days of negotiations the hijackers agreed to abandon the liner for safe conduct and were flown towards Tunisia aboard an Egyptian commercial airliner.
The plane was intercepted by United States Navy fighters on October 10 and directed to land at a NATO base in Sigonella, Sicily, where the hijackers were arrested by the Italians after a disagreement between US and Italian authorities. The other passengers on the plane (possibly including the hijackers' leader Abu Abbas) were allowed to continue on to their destination, despite protests by the United States. Egypt demanded, but did not receive, an apology from the United States for forcing the airplane off course.
The fate of those convicted of the hijacking is varied:
Bassam al-Asker was granted parole in 1991. He died on February 21, 2004.
Ahmad Marrouf al-Assadi disappeared in 1991 while on parole.
Youssef al Molqi was sentenced to 30 years, left the Rebibbia prison in Rome on February 16, 1996, on a twelve-day furlough, and fled to Spain, where he was recaptured and extradited back to Italy.
Abu Abbas left the jurisdiction of Italy and was convicted in absentia. In 1996 he made an apology for the hijacking and murder, and advocated peace talks between Palestininans and Israel; the apology was rejected by the United States government and Klinghoffer's family, who insisted he be brought to justice. Abbas was captured in Iraq in 2003 by the U.S. military during its 2003 invasion of Iraq. He died in custody March 9, 2004.
The PLO was sued for its role in the death of Leon Klinghoffer. The suit was dropped when the PLO paid an undisclosed sum to Klinghoffer's daughters, which was used to fund the Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation of the Anti-Defamation League, which works to combat terrorism through legal, political and educational means.
The ship continued in service; she was reflagged in 1987 when the Lauro Line became StarLauro. On November 30, 1994, she caught fire off the coast of Somalia. Abandoned, the vessel sank on December 2.
The hijack was made into a television movie in 1990, Voyage of Terror - The Achille Lauro Affair starring Burt Lancaster and Eve Marie Saint.
An opera, with libretto by Alice Goodman and music by John Adams, entitled The Death of Klinghoffer, opened to great controversy in 1991. In 2003, a movie version of the opera was produced by Madonna Baptiste and Yan Younghusband, directed by Penny Woolcock.
EgyptAir Flight 648 was a Boeing 737 aircraft on a flight from Athens to Cairo, carrying 96 people. On November 23, 1985, three men of the Abu Nidal terrorist group hijacked the aircraft over the Mediterranean. An Egyptian sky marshal shot one of the hijackers, setting off a gunfight that depressurized the aircraft and forced it to land in Valletta, Malta.
On the ground in Malta, the hijackers demanded fuel. When they did not get it, they shot two American and three Israeli passengers, three of whom miraculously survived.
After hours of negotiations, Egyptian commandos stormed the aircraft by using an explosive device that killed many passengers. The commandos boarded the aircraft and fought with the hijackers, who threw several hand grenades inside the cabin. The explosions and fire severely damaged the aircraft. 58 passengers died, as well as two of the six crew members.
Until September 11, 2001, this was the deadliest airplane hijacking in history.

The Rome and Vienna Airport Attacks were two major terrorist attacks carried out on December 27, 1985.
On that day, 4 terrorists walked to the ticket counter of Israel's El Al airlines at Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport and opened fire with assault rifles and grenades. They killed 16 people and wounded 80 others before 3 of them were killed and the remaining one shot and captured by police. Five Americans were among those killed.
Minutes later, at the Schwechat Airport (Vienna International Airport) in Vienna, Austria, 3 terrorits carried out a mirror attack. They killed 4 people and wounded 39 others. The terrorists then fled the airport by car, and Austrian authorities gave chase. They killed one terrorist and then captured another.
In all, the attacks killed 20 and wounded 120. They were carried out by terrorists from the Abu Nidal group, which was retaliating for the Israeli bombing of PLO headquarters in Tunis on October 1. Libya was accused of funding the terrorists who carried out the attacks, but although they denied the charges they did praise the assaults.

TWA Flight 840
TWA Flight 840 in the news
TWA Flight 840 was a regularly scheduled flight from Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport in Rome, Italy to Ellinikon International Airport in Athens, Greece. The flight was twice subject to attack. It was hijacked on August 29, 1969 and then bombed on April 2, 1986.
1969 Hijacking
In August 1969, leaders in the Palestinian left-wing organization PFLP learned that Yitzak Rabin, the Isreali Ambassador to the United States was scheduled to be aboard the flight. Two operatives, Leila Khaled and Salim Issawi hijacked the plane. They operation was successful, although Rabin was not aboard. The hijackers demanded that the pilot land in Damascus. The hostages were released and no one was injured, although the plane, a Boeing 707 was blown up.
1986 Bombing
On April 2, 1986, N54340, a Boeing 727-231 was flying on the route with 114 passengers. A bomb was detonated on the aircraft, sucking 4 American passengers (including a nine-month old infant) to their deaths below. Five other Americans on the aircraft were injured, and a rapid decompression ensued in the cabin. The remaining 110 passengers survived the incident.
A group calling itself the Arab Revolutionary Cells claimed responsibility, saying it was committed because of "American arrogance" and the US clashes with Libya in the Gulf of Sidra the week before.
Investigators concluded the bomb was a 1-pound charge of plastic explosive. It had been placed under the seat cushion by a Lebanese woman (later arrested) working for May 15, a Palestinian splinter group led by a close associate of Yasser Arafat.

Pan Am Flight 73 was a flight that was hijacked on September 5, 1986 by four armed men of the Abu Nidal terrorist organization. The Boeing 747 aircraft departing from Karachi International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan en route to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, New York carried some 379 people, including several dozen Americans.
As Pakistani security forces stormed the plane, hijackers shot the passengers and threw grenades on the plane. 22 passengers, including 2 Americans were killed, and 150 were wounded. The four terrorists were captured and given prison sentences in Pakistan; however, they were later released. In late 2001 the leader of the Palestinian hijackers, Zayd Hassan Abd Al-Latif Masud Al Safarini, was captured in Pakistan and taken to the United States, where he has since been sentenced to a 160 year prison term. (in 2004)

Pan Am Flight 103 was a regular scheduled flight, which flew from Frankfurt International Airport in Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, Germany, to Heathrow Airport in London, United Kingdom, then to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, United States.
The Pan Am Flight 103 disaster, also known as the Lockerbie disaster or the Lockerbie air disaster in Britain, was the destruction of the airplane flying this route, via the explosion of a bomb on board the airplane travelling on the London to New York leg on the evening of December 21, 1988. 270 people died in the bombing; everyone on board was killed, as well as 11 people on the ground.
The airplane was N739PA, the Maid of the Seas, a Boeing 747-121.


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