7 October 1985

Four men from the Palestine Liberation Front hijack the MS Achille Lauro off the coast of Egypt.

The hijacking of the MS Achille Lauro was a dramatic and internationally significant event that occurred in 1985. The MS Achille Lauro was an Italian cruise ship owned by the StarLauro Line. The ship was carrying more than 1,000 passengers and crew members on a cruise in the Mediterranean Sea when it was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists on October 7, 1985.

The hijackers were members of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), a Palestinian militant organization led by Abu Abbas. Their primary demand was the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The hijackers boarded the ship in Egypt, and once on board, they took control of the vessel.

During the ordeal, the hijackers singled out a wheelchair-bound American passenger named Leon Klinghoffer, who was traveling with his wife. They shot and killed him, then threw his body overboard. This murder drew widespread international condemnation and outrage.

The Achille Lauro was eventually allowed to dock in the port of Port Said, Egypt, where the hijackers negotiated with Egyptian authorities for their safe passage out of the country. In exchange for the release of the hostages, the hijackers were given safe passage on an EgyptAir plane to Tunisia. The Egyptian government’s decision to allow the hijackers to leave the country without facing justice for the murder of Leon Klinghoffer was highly criticized.

The United States and other countries pursued the hijackers, and Abu Abbas, the leader of the PLF, was eventually captured and brought to trial in Italy. However, many of the other hijackers managed to evade capture for several years.

The hijacking of the MS Achille Lauro highlighted the continuing tensions in the Middle East and the use of terrorism as a means to draw attention to the Palestinian cause. It also raised questions about the responsibilities of countries in dealing with international terrorists and the pursuit of justice for acts of terrorism.