dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y

 

 

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AUGUST 1969
7-MINUTE DETOUR OVER OCCUPIED HOMELAND 1

 

A stylishly clad Leila Khaled, in white bell-bottoms and matching hat, boards the flight from Beirut to Rome. The person sitting next to her is a clean-cut sociable American on his way to New York. She knows that Americans, like most other tourists, like to make casual conversation about everything under the sun. He must be bored, and he wants to talk.
—“Where are you going?” he asks.
—“I am going to Rome,” she replies.
—“Why are you going to Rome?” he continues.
Khaled pauses momentarily to fabricate an answer, and says with simulated shyness, —“I am going to meet my fiancé who is coming from London to meet me in Rome in a few days.”
—“How on earth would an Arab girl be going to Rome to meet her fiancé alone and get married?” he asks. In truth, Leila Khaled is on her way to Rome in order to hijack the TWA Boeing-707 that will be leaving for Tel Aviv in a couple of days.
Once airborne her other accessories appear: a pistol and a hand grenade. As she makes her way towards the cockpit, her companion, Salim Issawi, announces that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is now in command of the very first American airliner hijacked in the Middle East. Captain Carter, looking down the barrel of a pistol, is obliged to agree.
—“What shall I do now?” asks Carter.
—“Let’s take a seven-minute tour of the fatherland.” The image of her father appears before Leila’s eyes, while she can hear his voice saying, “When will we return home?” Her whole world comes together. She is silent. She looks out at the greenery and mountains of Palestine. She can see Tel Aviv below. She weeps out of affection and longing.


6 SEPTEMBER 1970: SECOND RENDEZVOUS WITH HISTORY

After a celebrity tour of the Arab world, Leila Khaled undergoes facial plastic surgery to prepare her for her second rendezvous with history. Ever since the 1969 TWA hijack episode, Khaled’s picture plasters the walls of airports worldwide, yet there is hardly a glimmer of recognition as the veteran skyjacker boards an El Al flight bound for New York. This time her companion is Patrick Arguello and she wears a “wonderbra” in which two grenades are concealed. They attempt to divert the plane to join their comrades at a deserted military airstrip in the Jordanian desert. On the infamous quadruple “Skyjack Sunday” the El Al hijack is foiled. Patrick Arguello is shot and killed, while Leila Khaled is apprehended.
Captive in a London prison, Khaled’s capture gives the PFLP a headache: the British refuse to exchange Miss Khaled for non-British hostages. Realizing they do not have any British nationals among those in the Jordanian desert, the PFLP decide to seize three days later a 5th, British plane, with which to negotiate for her release. It is the first British