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4/17/03 - CAPTURE OF ABU ABBAS - 2003-04-18

U.S.-led coalition forces are breaking Iraq's links to terrorism, as General Vince Brooks makes clear:

"On the night of 14 April 2003, coalition special operation forces conducted an operation in southern Baghdad to capture the Palestinian terrorist Mohammed Abbas, known as Abu Abbas. Abbas was often described as the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Front and was a key planner of the Achille Lauro hijacking in 1985."

Originally, Abu Abbas was a member of George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist group. He later joined a Syrian-supported terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. In 1976, he tried unsuccessfully to take over the group from Ahmad Jibril. In 1977, with support from Iraq, Abbas established a splinter group, the Palestine Liberation Front. In 1983, he moved from Syria to Tunisia.

Abu Abbas organized terrorist attacks against Israel and kidnappings of United Nations peacekeeping troops in Lebanon. In October 1985, Palestine Liberation Front terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. They held the crew and passengers hostage and murdered a wheelchair-bound sixty-nine-year-old Jewish-American, Leon Klinghoffer. Abbas and the four hijackers were later captured by U.S. military forces and turned over to Italian authorities. The hijackers were sentenced to prison. But Abbas was allowed to leave Italy. He was later convicted in absentia and sentenced to life in prison.

Abu Abbas was given safe haven by the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. His capture by coalition forces is further evidence of that regime's support for international terrorism. And it proves something else, as Leon Klinghoffer's daughter Lisa said:

"It kind of sends a message that it does not matter how many years go by, that when you are a terrorist. . .there's no place to run and no place to hide."

The liberation of Iraq is an important victory in the war against terrorism.