Yes, it’s been twenty years, so Ibrahim Fatayer Abdelatif, now 43, has been released from an Italian jail.

A cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, was hijacked by four armed thugs, and to prove they were mean and meant their threats, they killed a defenseless elderly man in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, dumping his body over the side of the ship.

Yes, kidnapping and murder will get you 25 years, but Fatayer got time off for “good behavior” and apparantly didn’t bomb anything when he was loose on parole for three years. And the poor dear is now probably going to be helped by “human rights” groups, because no one wants him, and Italy says he is not allowed to stay. This makes the BBC sad:

The BBC’s David Willey, in Rome, says Ibrahim’s predicament as a “stateless person” is similar to hundreds of foreign-born criminals in Italy.

Abdelatif will remain perpetually subject to arrest if he remains in Italy, our correspondent adds.

Given his young age at the time of the crime, it is possible that he just might settle down.

Others convicted with him were given longer sentences.

Yet the now forgotten Achille Lauro incident has many reverberations for today’s headlines.

For example, what does one do with ex terrorists? Can they reform, or do we jail them all for life? Since some released from Gitmo have gone back to terrorism, including bombing civilians, this is not an easy question.

Another issue is this one:

The mastermind of the operation, Abu Abbas, was convicted in abstentia but never spent time in prison in Italy. He died in US custody after being captured in Iraq in 2004.

This brings up all sorts of questions, like connecting the dots between terrorists groups and Saddam Hussein…then there is the question why CNN in 1996 called him a “peace advocate” …it also brings up the suspicion that he might have been questioned too vigorously.

Another link with today’s headlines is this sentence at the end of the AP article:

The hijacking was organized by the militant Palestinian Liberation Front in part to demand the freedom of Samir Kantar, the convicted gunman now at the center of a prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah.

Hmm…this is a murderer of a policeman and is unrepentant…but given the fact that 30 years later, Hezbollah still is trying to get him released (and kidnapped some Israeli soldiers to get him back) it makes one wonder if the gentleman was a major player in terrorism, not a routine terrorist killer.

And finally, there is this note, from Mr. Klinghoffer’s children, blasting the NYTimes for their benign characterization of arrested arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar:

One of the innocent civilians killed by arms provided by that man was our father, Leon Klinghoffer. Our father was a wonderful and decent man. He was shot in the head and thrown overboard with his wheelchair from the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985. He was murdered by Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists because he was an American and a Jew, and because his disability made it “difficult” for the terrorists…. Future coverage should focus on the murder of thousands of civilians around the world because of Mr. Kassar’s arms and on the Justice Department’s unyielding pursuit of him.

Lisa Klinghoffer


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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