On October 7, 1985, four men, including mastermind Muhammad Zaidan, aka Mohammed Abul al-Abbas, from the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) hijacked the Italian MS Achille Lauro liner off the coast of Egypt, as she was sailing from Alexandria to Ashdod, Israel. Holding the passengers and crew hostage, they directed the vessel to sail to Tartus, Syria, and demanded the release of 50 Palestinians then in Israeli prisons. As many of the hostages were American tourists, President Ronald Reagan deployed the Navy’s SEAL Team Six and Delta Force to stand by and prepare for a possible rescue attempt to free the vessel from its hijackers.
On October 8, after being refused permission by the Syrian government to dock, the hijackers murdered Leon Klinghoffer, a retired, wheelchair-bound Jewish American businessman, shooting him in the forehead and chest. They then forced the ship’s barber and a waiter to throw his body and wheelchair overboard. Read more