Today in terrorism: October 7, 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking

On this day in 1985, four terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front corralled 97 passengers aboard the Italian ship Achille Lauro.

There is a saying that goes “there is no honour among thieves”. I just read that the original maxim was “even among thieves there is honour” and dates back to Cicero (!). Miguel de Cervantes in his monumental work Don Quixote, published in 1612, wrote: “The old proverb still holds good, thieves are never rogues amongst themselves”.

The difference between these two contradictory phrases lies in whether you think there is such a thing as an ‘honest crook’. For many, criminals are simply bad people who cannot be trusted and thus the assumption holds that they are nasty individuals.

Sometimes they indeed are.

A good example of the despicable actions of terrorists is the recent reign of horror under Islamic State’s so-called ‘Caliphate’. These extremists threw gay men off buildings, burned captives alive, beheaded innocent people and raped girls. It is hard to come up with worse examples.

I think I have one

On this day in 1985 four terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front brandishing AK-47 machine guns corralled the crew and 97 passengers aboard the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and forced the captain to leave Port Said in Egypt. The men—who had been posing as passengers—demanded that Israel release 50 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel

A day later, the terrorists shot Leon Klinghoffer, an elderly American Jewish man confined to a wheelchair, and threw his body overboard. He was thought to have been singled out because of his religion.

Read that again. They shot a 69-year old man IN A WHEELCHAIR and dumped his body into the Mediterranean. Some heroes. Some warriors.

I know that the Palestinian issue is an emotional one and has yet to be resolved. I know that many people, and not just Palestinians, want an independent homeland. They have every right to push for this, up to and including the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

But the use of violence crosses the line. Nothing justifies the killing of a near septuagenarian in a wheelchair. Nothing. Terrorists talk a lot about honour. The death of Mr. Klinghoffer is a prime example of dishonour.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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