Sunday, September 27, 2020

How Leila Khaled's Second Hijacking Attempt Was Foiled

This is a gripping account from the pilot of El Al flight 219, which Leila Khaled and a partner tried to hijack in 1970. Khaled had already successfully hijacked an Israel-bound plane in 1969, and in this attempt they shot and severely wounded a flight attendant and pulled the pin on two hand grenades, seriously threatening the lives of remaining passengers and crew. The pilot's quick thinking (he had previously served in the Israeli air force) managed to allow Israeli security officers to regain control of the plane (though they were aided by a stroke of pure luck -- Khaled's grenades never went off).

Incredibly, I found out recently that a professional colleague of mine was on this very flight, along with her daughter. As she tells it, they were sitting a row behind Khaled when the hijacking began.

It's worth noting that Khaled not only has never repudiated her prior acts of terrorism, but she continues to extol them as the epitome of virtuous resistance. There are, in history generally and the Middle East specifically, plenty of people with dim chapters in their past who've gone on to do salutary or even heroic things. Khaled, though, as best I can tell, is remembered primarily -- by both her admirers and detractors -- for her role in terrorizing innocents, and has never really evolved politically beyond that.

2 comments:

Erl said...

unfortunately, the link isn't working for me!

steevee said...

The rock band Teardrop Explodes name-dropped her in this 1981 song, although the lyrics' political point isn't very clear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1vfGHYBmSE&ab_channel=MichaelRoss