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KF5JRV > TODAY    11.10.18 13:30l 70 Lines 3617 Bytes #3 (0) @ WW
BID : 22874_KF5JRV
Subj: Today in History - Oct 10
Sent: 181011/1123Z 22874@KF5JRV.#NWAR.AR.USA.NA BPQ6.0.16

The hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro reaches a
dramatic climax when U.S. Navy F-14 fighters intercept an Egyptian
airliner attempting to fly the Palestinian hijackers to freedom and
force the jet to land at a NATO base in Sigonella, Sicily. American and
Italian troops surrounded the plane, and the terrorists were taken into
Italian custody.

On October 7, four heavily armed Palestinian terrorists hijacked the
Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Alexandria,
Egypt. Some 320 crewmembers and 80 passengers,were taken hostage.
Hundreds of other passengers had disembarked the cruise ship earlier
that day to visit Cairo and tour the Egyptian pyramids. Identifying
themselves as members of the Palestine Liberation Front–a Palestinian
splinter group–the gunmen demanded the release of 50 Palestinian
militants imprisoned in Israel. If their demands were not met, they
threatened to blow up the ship and kill the 11 Americans on board. The
next morning, they also threatened to kill the British passengers.

The Achille Lauro traveled to the Syrian port of Tartus, where the
terrorists demanded negotiations on October 8. Syria refused to permit
the ship to anchor in its waters, which prompted more threats from the
hijackers. That afternoon, they shot and killed Leon Klinghoffer, a
69-year-old Jewish-American who was confined to a wheelchair as the
result of a stroke. His body was then pushed overboard in the

Yasir Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) condemned the
hijacking, and PLO officials joined with Egyptian authorities in
attempting to resolve the crisis. On the recommendation of the
negotiators, the cruise ship traveled to Port Said. On October 9, the
hijackers surrendered to Egyptian authorities and freed the hostages in
exchange for a pledge of safe passage to an undisclosed destination.

The next day–October 10–the four hijackers boarded an EgyptAir Boeing
737 airliner, along with Mohammed Abbas, a member of the Palestine
Liberation Front who had participated in the negotiations; a PLO
official; and several Egyptians. The 737 took off from Cairo at 4:15
p.m. EST and headed for Tunisia. President Ronald Reagan gave his final
order approving the plan to intercept the aircraft, and at 5:30 p.m.
EST, F-14 Tomcat fighters located the airliner 80 miles south of Crete.
Without announcing themselves, the F-14s trailed the airliner as it
sought and was denied permission to land at Tunis. After a request to
land at the Athens airport was likewise refused, the F-14s turned on
their lights and flew wing-to-wing with the airliner. The aircraft was
ordered to land at a NATO air base in Sicily, and the pilot complied,
touching down at 6:45 p.m. The hijackers were arrested soon after. Abbas
and the other Palestinian were released, prompting criticism from the
United States, which wanted to investigate their possible involvement in
the hijacking.

On July 10, 1986, an Italian court later convicted three of the
terrorists and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from 15 to 30
years. Three others, including Mohammed Abbas, were convicted in
absentia for masterminding the hijacking and sentenced to life in
prison. They received harsher penalties because, unlike the hijackers,
who the court found were acting for “patriotic motives,ö Abbas and the
others conceived the hijacking as a “selfish political actö designed “to
weaken the leadership of Yasir Arafat.ö The fourth hijacker was a minor
who was tried and convicted separately.

73 de Scott KF5JRV


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