ADL Welcomes Capture of Terrorist Abu Abbas; Calls on U.S. to Bring Him to Justice
New York, NY, April 16, 2003 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and its Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation today welcomed the capture of Palestinian terrorist Abu Abbas, the mastermind of the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship, and called on the United States government to finally bring him to justice for the murder of Leon Klinghoffer.
"The arrest of Abu Abbas is an extremely important and welcome development in the U.S. war against terrorism," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "His capture is significant not only for the message it sends to those terrorists who seek to kill innocent Americans, but also for the Klinghoffer family, which has been repeatedly denied justice in the brutal murder of their husband and father. It is critical that democratic countries hold terrorists accountable for their actions. We urge the U.S. government to revive the indictment against Abbas or to seek other legal means to finally bring this man, who murdered an American citizen, to justice."
ADL today urged the U.S. Department of Justice to "seize this moment to strike another emphatic blow in this nation's war on terrorism." In a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft, the League said that through his leadership "the Justice Department must find a way to bring Abbas to justice in this country, and to make him answer for Leon Klinghoffer's death and for his organization's other acts of terrorism against Americans."
Abbas, convicted in absentia in July 1986 by an Italian court for his role in the hijacking, was captured by U.S. Special Forces in Iraq during a late-night raid on the outskirts of Baghdad on April 14. Until his arrest, Abbas had continued to elude Italian, U.S. and international authorities while traveling through the Middle East, appearing in Gaza in 1996, and later surfacing in Iraq, where he enjoyed the protection of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Leon Klinghoffer, an elderly passenger on the Achille Lauro, was brutally executed and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by those who carried out the 1985 hijacking. Following his unconscionable death, ADL and the Klinghoffer family created the ADL Klinghoffer Foundation, which combats terrorism through educational, political and legal means. In addition, the Foundation recognizes exemplary action against terrorism with the Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Foundation Memorial Award.
Background on the Achille Lauro hijacking:
Italian Government Urged to Uphold Terrorist's 25-year Sentence (8/3/00)
Italy Urged to Bring Convicted Achille Lauro Terrorist to Justice (5/14/98)
Convicted Terrorist Murderer Extradited from Spain (7/26/96)
U.S. Efforts to Apprehend Abbas Welcomed (6/27/96)
ADL Outraged Klinghoffer Murderer Permitted to Disappear (3/4/96)
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.