Thursday 4 August 2011

The Achille Lauro Hijack Story.

On Monday night the 7th of October 1985 the Italian cruise ship "Achille Lauro" was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists as she sailed from the Egyptian port of Alexandria on a Mediterranean cruise. In the first reports it was indicated that the terrorists were holding the passengers and crew hostage against the relaese of 50 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. The terrorists, claiming to be members of the PLO were heavily armed and carrying large amounts of explosives. Later it was learned that on board the cruise liner were only 114 passengers and 340 crew as she sailed for Port Said. The remaining 676 passengers had taken an overland trip to Cairo and were due to rejoin the ship in Port Said.The "Achille Lauro" spent two dramatic days sailing in the Eastern Mediterranean and was denied docking in Syria, Lebanon and Cyprus, while Egyptian, Italian and American warships shadowed the Italian liner. After cold-bloody murdering the 69 year old American tourist, Mr. Leon Klinghoffer, who was confined to a   to a wheel-chair, and throwing his body in the sea, the terrorists gave up up the ship, the remaining passengers and crew off Port- Said on the 9th of October. Although they threatened to blow up the vessel and murder all the hostages, the terrorists were clearly unable to deal with such an undertaking and had no support. There circulated the rumour that the hijacking was never intended but the terrorists had booked a cruise on the "Achille Lauro" as an underhand method of getting into Israel. The plan, the rumour continued, failed when the terrorists were recognised by a crew-member after which their cover blown, they had little choice then to go on the offensive in a classis take-over situation. Whatever the authenticity of these stories, the "Achille Lauro" and those on board found themselves the victims of piracy on the high seas with the passengers and crew subjected to a terrifying ordeal which ended with murder.

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