On Oct. 7, 1985, off the coast of Egypt, four gunmen
hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners in Egypt, Italy, and elsewhere. When the demands weren't met, they killed Leon Klinghoffer, a 69-year-old disabled American tourist. Investigators blamed the Palestine Liberation Front, which some believed to be allied with Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organization. Later, U.S. officials were able to link Libya to the PLF and the hijacking.
After the hijackers escaped the Achille Lauro and left Egypt by air, U.S. Navy fighters intercepted their plane and forced it down in Italy. The four hijackers were apprehended, and in 1986, they were found guilty in an Italian court. Two of the hijackers escaped from prison. One, Magid al-Molgi, who confessed to killing Mr. Klinghoffer, was caught and returned to prison. The man identified as the mastermind of the hijacking, Abu Abbas, was released by Italy despite Washington's pleas that he be held for trial.
Read more: Terrorist Attacks On Americans, 1979-1988 | Target America | FRONTLINE | PBS