Model Role Details

Laila Khaled

Laila Khaled

Sector : Public Figures , Public Figures

Personal Info

  • Country of residence : Palestine
  • Gender : Female
  • Born in : 1944
  • Age : 72
  • Curriculum vitae :

Information

Leila Khaled is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and an airline hijacker who was later released in a prisoner exchange for civilian hostages kidnapped by her fellow PFLP members. The PFLP is described as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, and the European Union.

Khaled came to public attention for her role in a 1969 hijacking and one of four simultaneous hijackings the following year as part of Black September. Khaled was born in Haifa, Mandatory Palestine to Lebanese parents. Khaled's family was forced to flee to Lebanon, as part of the 1948 Palestinian exodus, on 13 April 1948, leaving her father behind. At the age of 15, following in the footsteps of her brother, she joined the pan-Arab Arab Nationalist Movement, originally started in the late 1940s by George Habash, then a medical student at the American University of Beirut. The Palestinian branch of this movement became the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine after the 1967 Six-Day War.

Khaled also spent some time teaching in Kuwait and, in her autobiography, recounted crying the day she heard that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

On August 29, 1969, Khaled was part of a team that hijacked TWA Flight 840 on its way from Rome to Athens, diverting the Boeing 707 to Damascus. She claims she ordered the pilot to fly over Haifa, so she could see her birthplace, which she could not visit. No one was injured, but the aircraft was blown up after hostages had disembarked. According to some media sources, the PFLP leadership thought that Yitzhak Rabin, then Israeli ambassador to the United States, would be on board. This was, however, denied by Khaled and others. After this hijacking, and after a now famous picture of her (taken by Eddie Adams) holding an AK-47 rifle and wearing a kaffiyeh was widely published, she underwent six plastic surgery operations on her nose and chin to conceal her identity and allow her to take part in a future hijacking, and because she did not want to wear the face of an icon.

On September 6, 1970, Khaled and Patrick Argüello, a Nicaraguan-American, attempted the hijack of El Al Flight 219 from Amsterdam to New York City as part of the Dawson's Field hijackings, a series of almost simultaneous hijackings carried out by the PFLP. The attack was foiled, when Israeli skymarshals killed Argüello before eventually overpowering Khaled. Although she was carrying two hand grenades at the time, Khaled said she had received very strict instructions not to threaten passengers on the civilian flight. (Argüello shot a member of the flight crew.)

The pilot diverted the aircraft to Heathrow airport in London, where Khaled was delivered to Ealing police station. On October 1, the British government released her in exchange for hostages taken in a further hijacking.


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