Achille Lauro - October 8, 1985
Cruise Ship Passenger Deaths
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Cruise Ship Murder At Sea
Cruise Ship Person Overboard
Achille Lauro Passenger, October 8, 1985
Time of Death 1:30
Leon Klinghoffer, 69, from New Jersey, born September 24, 1916, was on a cruise aboard Star Lauro's Achille Lauro on October 7, 1985 with his wife Marilyn when the vessel was seized by terrorists at sea near Egypt. The terrorists took control of the cruise ship in the Mediterranean off Egypt as it was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said, Egypt
Hijackers, four armed Palestinian terrorists boarded the vessel and took the ship passengers and crew as hostages. The operation was mastermind by Mohammed Abul Abbas.
The next day, Tuesday, October 8, when the terrorists were refused permission to dock at Tartus, the hijackers shot disabled cruise ship passenger Leon Klinghoffer, in the forehead and the chest. Leon was wheelchair bound.
He was shot because he was Jewish, according to reports.
His wife had been separated from him, by the hijackers, prior to the murder. When she inquired about his where abouts, she was told he was in the infirmary. She learned the truth later.
They then threw his body overboard, though reports were he was not dead. He died from the wounds and drowning.
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.
Once the terrorist were granted safe passage, the balance of the ship's hostages were released.
Klinghoffer's body was found by the Syrians on October 14-15 and returned to the United States around October 20. Leon Klinghoffer was buried at Beth David Memorial Park in Kenilworth, New Jersey.
Insisting upon jurisdiction, the Italian government immediately sent Mohammed Abul Abbas, the mastermind of the hijacking to Yugoslavia for safety. Mohammed Abul Abbas was later convicted in absentia to life imprisonment.
The apprehended Palestinian hijackers were tried and sent to Italian prisons where they later escaped.
Coalition special operations personnel in Baghdad captured Palestinian terrorist Mohammed Abu Abbas, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Front, April 14, 2003.
Mohammed Abul Abbas died of a heart attack in Iraq while in the custody of the United States, on March 9, 2004, and was never personally held accountable for the murder.
After his death, his daughters established the Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation with the Anti-Defamation League; the foundation combats terrorism through educational, political and legal means.
The foundation is funded by undisclosed settlement paid by the PLO to the Klinghoffers to settle a lawsuit seeking damages for the PLO's role in the hijacking.
UPDATE: JUNE 8, 2006 Justice long delayed may finally come for the family of Leon Klinghoffer.