Leila Khaled

Leila Khaled

Leila Khaled ( _ar. ليلى خالد "unicode|laylà ẖālid"; born April 9, 1944) is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). She is currently a member of the Palestinian National Council.

Khaled came to public attention for her role in a 1969 hijacking and one of four simultaneous hijackings the following year as part of the Black September timeline.

Early life

Khaled was born in 1944 in Haifa, then part of the British Mandate of Palestine. Khaled's family fled to Lebanon during the 1948 Palestinian exodus, leaving her father behind. At the age of 15, Khaled became one of the first to join the radical 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 as a teacher in Kuwait, and in her autobiography recounted crying the day she heard that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.cite book |last=Khaled |first= Leila|authorlink= |coauthors= |title= My People Shall Live|year= 1973|publisher= Hodder & Stoughton|location= London|isbn= 0340173807 |url=http://www.onepalestine.org/resources/articles/My_People_Shall_Live.html]

The hijackings

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. [http://web.archive.org/web/20070629145702/http://www.mqm.com/English-News/Jan-2001/leilakhalid.htm "I made the ring from a bullet and the pin of a hand grenade"] , "The Guardian", January 26, 2001] No one was injured, but the aircraft was blown up after hostages had disembarked. According to some media sources, [cite book |last=MacDonald |first=Eileen |title=Shoot the Women First |year=1991 |publisher=Random House |location=New York |isbn=0-679-41596-3 |chapter=Leila Khaled ] the PFLP leadership thought that Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli ambassador to the United States would be on board. This was however denied by Leila Khaled and others. After this hijacking, Khaled underwent the first of several plastic surgeries intended to conceal her identity. Fact|date=February 2008

On September 6, 1970, Khaled and Patrick Arguello, a Nicaraguan, 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 Arguello 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. (Patrick Arguello, the co-hijacker, 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 as part of a prisoner exchange. The next year, the PFLP abandoned the tactic of hijacking, although splinter movements would continue to hijack airplanes.

Later life

Khaled has said in interviews that she developed a fondness for the United Kingdom when her first visitor in jail, an immigration officer, wanted to know why she had arrived in the country without a valid visa. She also developed a relationship with the two policewomen assigned to guard her in Ealing and later corresponded with them. Khaled continued to return to Britain for speaking engagements until as late as 2002, although she was more recently refused a visa by the British embassy to address a meeting at the Féile an Phobail in Belfast.Fact|date=September 2007

Khaled has said that she no longer believes in hijacking as a legitimate form of protest, though she is wary of the Arab-Israeli peace process. According to Khaled, "It's not a peace process. It's a political process where the balance of forces is for the Israelis and not for us. They have all the cards to play with and the Palestinians have nothing to depend on, especially when the PLO is not united."Fact|date=September 2007 She has become involved in politics, becoming a member of the Palestinian National Council and appearing regularly at the World Social Forum.Fact|date=September 2007

She is married to the physician Fayez Rashid Hilal, and today lives with her two sons Bader and Bashar in Amman, Jordan. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20060903121752/http://irelandsown.net/leilakhalid2.html Interview by Sana Abdallah] , United Press International, July 21, 2003]

She was the subject of a recent film, entitled "Leila Khaled, Hijacker". [cite web | last = Murphy| first = Maureen Clare| title = Violence or nonviolence? Two documentaries reviewed | publisher = | date = 2007-04-09| url = http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6781.shtml| accessdate = 2007-09-07]

In popular culture

* The song "Like Leila Khaled Said" from The Teardrop Explodes' 1981 album "Wilder" is a love song to Khaled. Songwriter Julian Cope said it was a love song to her "cos I thought she was so beautiful. But I know that the whole thing was like bad news." [ [http://screamingsecrets.com/discography/tx_albums/html/a_5.html Teardrop Explodes Discography | Albums ] ]
* It is claimed that the character of savage warrior Leela from Doctor Who was named after Leila Khaled. [ [http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/4q.html A Brief History Of Time (Travel): The Face Of Evil ] ]
* The song "Leila Khaled" by the Danish band Magtens Korridorer.


* [http://www.aljazeerah.info/Opinion%20editorials/2002%20Opinion%20editorials/Oct%202002%20op%20eds/Oct%2017,%202002%20op%20eds.htm Leila Khaled – hijacked by destiny] , a Friday Times interview at Al-Jazeerah.info
* [http://www.asi-mag.com/editorials/leila_khaled.htm Interview with Aviation Security]
* [http://www.leilakhaled.com/ "Leila Khaled - Hijacker"] - Documentary by Lina Makboul

Further reading

* [http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon_5_31_02td.html "A Terrorist Returns," Theodore Dalrymple]
* [http://www.mqm.com/English-News/Jan-2001/leilakhalid.htm "I made the ring from a bullet and the pin of a hand grenade"] by Katharine Viner, "The Guardian", January 26, 2001
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/uk/2000/uk_confidential/1090986.stm "The guerrilla's story"] , BBC, January 1, 2001
* Khaled, Leila. "My people shall live: the autobiography of a revolutionary." London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1973, ISBN 0-340-17380-7
* MacDonald, Eileen. Shoot the Women First. London: Arrow Books, 1992, ISBN 0-09-913871-9
* Snow, Peter, and Phillips, David. "Leila's Hijack War: The True Story of 25 days in September". London: Pan Books, 1970, ISBN 0-330-02810-3

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Look at other dictionaries:

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