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Ship Hijacking

Ship hijacking is rare, but the seizure of the Achille Lauro proved that it can happen. The Italian cruise ship was commandeered on October 7, 1985, by four members of a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The hijackers boarded the ship posing as tourists, and waited until the ship was off the Egyptian coast before taking its crew and passengers hostage. They threatened to kill the hostages if Israel did not meet their demand to release 50 Palestinian prisoners. They also threatened to blow up the ship if anyone attempted a rescue mission. When the hijackers' demands were not met the next day, they shot and killed Leon Klinghoffer, a U.S. citizen who was partially paralyzed and used a wheelchair. They dumped Klinghoffer's body in the sea.

Denied access to a Syrian port, the hijackers sailed to Alexandria, where they surrendered to Egyptian authorities. The hijackers were allowed to leave Egypt for Italy to stand trial, where they were convicted for violating an Italian statute that made terrorist KIDNAPPING illegal. The hijacker who confessed to killing Klinghoffer was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

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