April 15, 2003


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Abu Abbas, the Palestinian terrorist who masterminded the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean Sea, has been arrested by U.S. personnel in Iraq.

Abbas was arrested about 50 miles west of Baghdad after being turned away from Iraq's border with Syria, a Palestinian source told CNN.

The hijacking of the ship led to the killing of disabled passenger Leon Klinghoffer, an American Jew. Klinghoffer was shot in his wheelchair and thrown overboard by Abbas' men.

So -- explain to me again how the Iraq/terrorism connection was just a bit of Bush Administration PR. Go ahead. I'm waiting. . . . [crickets chirping] . . .

UPDATE: Note how the BBC plays it:

During the hijack, an elderly American passenger was killed.

No mention that he was Jewish, or in a wheelchair, or tossed overboard -- all details that would have been lovingly emphasized in the unlikely event that such an atrocity had been perpetrated by, say, a U.S. Marine.

Well, except for the Jewish part, which is only emphasized when the Beeb discusses people like Paul "Wolfivitz."

UPDATE: Well, a reader notes that the wheelchair is in the story now. Heh.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Travis Smith notes:

Makes you wonder exactly why this guy was hanging out around Baghdad when he knew the US was around, and looking for his type. Maybe those borders are being watched more closely than we've been led to believe, otherwise why wouldn't this guy bolt the country? This event also highlights how good (or improved) our human intelligence in Iraq just don't think the US bumped into someone who said "Hey, I know where Abu Abbas is!" do you? Can Saddam be far behind? After all, this guy did his deed almost 20 years ago, but our intel was good enough to dig him up......assuming Saddam isn't under a building somewhere, wouldn't you think someone would give a good tip on a high profile (=high reward $) target like him sooner or later?

You would. The CNN story says he was turned back at the border after trying to enter Syria -- more evidence that the pressure on Damascus is doing some good.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Daniel Freitag emails:

You noted that the BBC was rather tepid in its online coverage of the Abu Abbas capture.

The broadcast version was even worse (last night).

The onscreen bulletin (below the broadcaster) described Abu Abbas as a Palestinian 'activist' (As if he was working to improve educational standards for migrant workers).

The BBC newsreader said that Abu Abbas masterminded the Achille Lauro hijacking...and I quote..."which led to the death of elderly American Leon Klinghoffer".

Got that? It 'led to his death' as if he couldnt take his medicine because of the inconvenience....

If you can get a transcript you ought to.

Just checked Nexis -- nothing there yet. If anybody knows where this can be found on the web, let me know.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Just looked at the BBC story again (the online one, of course, not the broadcast one) and now the wheelchair item (which was added about halfway down earlier) has now been moved up to the top of the story, just below the bolded introductory paragraph. Congratulations to the BBC for making that change. I hope that next time it will note important factors like that in the story's first iteration. But, hey -- we bloggers update our stories all the time, so I won't kick 'em for doing the same.

OKAY, ONE MORE: Just noticed via Andrew Sullivan's page that the original BBC story on this just said that Klinghoffer "died." Like the broadcast version referenced above, I guess.

Nice to see that the Beeb has been engaged in what Mickey Kaus calls the "asymptotic approach to truth" here, anyway. Maybe next time, they'll start from a bit closer. . . .