New York, NY, March 9, 2004 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said today, in reaction to the news that terrorist mastermind Abu Abbas died while in U.S. custody in Baghdad, "our only regret is that he was not brought to justice for his role in the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, abroad the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985.
"ADL and the Klinghoffer family, who established the Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation to combat terrorism, worked tirelessly to ensure Abbas was brought to the United States to stand trial for his crime. We regret that it never happened."
Statement of Ilsa and Lisa Klinghoffer:
Our family was shocked to learn of the death of Abu Abbas. For the past 18 years, we have pursued all avenues to see that he be brought to justice for the murder of our father, Leon Klinghoffer, aboard the Achille Lauro in October 1985. We have been relentless in our efforts to ensure that Abbas be captured and brought to the U.S. to stand trial for our father's murder and, hopefully, to be convicted and to receive the maximum sentence under our law. Our hopes were raised last year when he was captured in Iraq by U.S. troops and arrested. Now, with his death, justice will be denied. The one consolation for us is that Abu Abbas died in captivity, not as a free man.
While our interest in seeing Abbas brought to justice was admittedly personal, the impact of a trial and conviction under our law would have been far broader. Abu Abbas was a vicious terrorist who was responsible for countless deaths of innocent people—men, women and children—throughout the Middle East. Justice for us would have been justice for untold thousands of widows and orphans his reign of terror left behind. His trial and conviction also would have sent a clear message to terrorists everywhere that, if they kill an American citizen, they can run but they can't hide.
We will continue to actively work on issues relating to terrorism and to making our world a safer place. We will continue to stand as living reminders of the real human tragedy that is wrought by terrorism.
Background on the Achille Lauro hijacking:
ADL Welcomes Capture of Terrorist Abu Abbas (4/16/03)
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)