Achille Lauro Is Hijacked

October 7, 1985

The cruise ship Achille Lauro is hijacked by members of the Palestinian Liberation Front off the coast of Egypt. The ship had departed from Genoa, Italy on October 3rd for an 11-day cruise with stops in Naples, Alexandria, Port Said and Ashdod, Israel with 748 passengers on board. The hijackers originally intended to carry out an attack against Israeli soldiers when the ship ported in Ashdod.

Several hundred passengers had left the Achille Lauro earlier that morning for a tour of the Egyptian pyramids and planned to meet the ship again at Port Said. The remaining passengers were collected on deck, and one elderly wheelchair bound American Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer was shot and killed by the terrorists. Eventually, with the help of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the hijackers agreed to surrender and on October 10th, they surrendered at Port Said (shown in photo).

In 1991, The Death of Klinghoffer, a controversial American opera based on the hijacking and murder opened in New York and Brussels and has been staged only a number of times since.