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Leader of '85 Achille Lauro Attack Dies at Prison in Iraq

Abu Abbas, the Palestinian mastermind of a deadly 1985 cruise ship hijacking in which an American passenger in a wheelchair was shot and thrown into the sea, has died at a prison in Iraq, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday. Mr. Abbas, who was 55, died on Monday apparently as a result of natural causes, said Bryan Whitman, the Pentagon spokesman. Mr. Whitman said that the exact cause of death had not yet been determined and that an autopsy would be performed. Once regarded as a remorseless terrorist leader of the Palestine Liberation Front, a Palestinian splinter group, Mr. Abbas led the hijackers who seized the cruise ship Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean. On Oct. 7, 1985, the hijackers shot Leon Klinghoffer, a 69-year-old American, and pushed him, in his wheelchair, into the sea in front of his wife. In recent years, Mr. Abbas had lived in Iraq under the protection of Saddam Hussein’s government and his group maintained an office in Baghdad. But Mr. Abbas, whose real name was Muhammad Abbas, went into hiding last year when the Iraqi government collapsed. Full Story

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