Amalek Triumphs Over Leon Klinghoffer
By Bill Day, The Detroit Free Press - Friday, October 11, 1985
Leon Klinghoffer, 69, a retired wheelchair-bound businessman (he had invented, manufactured and sold "the rotobroiler," a metal oven with a rotisserie and a heating element for broiling meat)
from New York, and his wife Marilyn, were celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary with a cruise on the Achille Lauro.
On October 7, 1985, four "soldiers" from the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), the main armed force of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasser Arafat, took control of the cruise-ship as it was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said, Egypt.
The next day, the PLO men singled out Klinghoffer, a Jew, for execution, shooting him once in the back and once in the head as he sat in his wheelchair.
A little later, they ordered the ship's barber and a waiter to throw his body and the wheelchair overboard. He finally washed ashore on the Syrian coast. An autoposy showed that he didn't die from the Arabs' bullets but from drowning.
As news of the murder came out, the PLO's Foreign Secretary, Farouq Qaddumi, in Tunisia, told interviewers that Marilyn Klinghoffer, who was terminally ill, had probably killed her husband for "insurance money."
All four PLO men left the ship at Port Said. The government of Egypt, under Hosni Mubarak, arranged a flight and safe passage for them to Tunisia. (Mubarak lied outright about this on American network television news that very afternoon, insisting that Egypt was not involved in any way.)
A U.S. war plane forced the Egyptian plane to land at a NATO air station in Italy.
After a jurisdictional dispute between the U.S. and Italy, Italian authorities arrested and tried the four killers. First, however, the Italian authorities allowed the PLO's Abbu Abbas, the operation's mastermind who had been acting as a "mediator," to fly to freedom in Yugoslavia. And the others effected a mysterious escape from Italian custody, obviously with special help, very soon thereafter.
Marilyn Klinghoffer died about four months after the murder, from colon cancer. The Klinghoffers left behind two daughters, and other relatives and friends.
On April 14, 2003, American armed forces captured Abbu Abdul Abbas at his home in Baghdad, Iraq, where he had been living for the past 17 years under the protection of Saddam Hussein. Abbas died of a heart attack on March 9, 2004, while in American custody, awaiting trial for his role in the murder.
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