RealNews

Snared in Baghdad, Abbas Center of Fresh Furor

Captured Palestinian Abu Abbas, mastermind of the 1985 hijacking of an Italian cruise ship, is back in the limelight with Washington holding him up as evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and terrorism. Italy said on Wednesday it would seek his extradition. The Palestinian Authority demanded his release, saying his detention violated a 1995 Middle East peace deal. But the United States, whose special forces seized Abbas in Baghdad on Monday, said that deal concerned arrangements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. “It does not apply to the legal status of persons detained in a third country,” a State Department official said. Abbas, who is also known as Mohammed Abbas and is now in his mid-50s, spent much of the past 17 years in Baghdad. In the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, guerrillas killed a disabled elderly American Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, shooting him and pushing his wheelchair over the side. But Abbas has since renounced violence and, in recent years, he has been clearly visible in the Gaza Strip after both Israel and the United States stopped chasing him. Full Story

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