Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Revolutionary Of The Week

Leila Khalid

Leila Khalid was born in Haifa, on April 9th, 1944, then part of the British Mandate of Palestine. When the Arabs rejected the 1947 UN Partition Plan, a fight ensued between the Jews & the Arabs.
In 1948, Leila's family moved to Lebanon, without her father, who was a member of the Fedayeen.
When Leila was 15 years old she became one of the first to join the Arab Nationalist Movement, a radical pan-Arab organization. Later, Leila also spent time as a teacher in Kuwait.
On August 29th, 1969, Leila was part of a group that hijacked TWA flight 840 from Rome to Athens. The flight was diverted to Damascus, where it landed after flying over Haifa. Leila wanted to see her birthplace, which she was not allowed to visit.
No one on board was killed or even injured, although the plane was blown up in protest. Some say that the PFLP thought that the plane was carrying the Israeli ambassador to the US, Yitzak Rubin, on board; it was not.
After this hijacking, Leila had the first of several plastic surgeries to conceal her identity.
Again, on September 6th, 1970, Leila Khalid, together with Nicaraguan Patrick Arguello, attempted to hijack El Al flight 219 from Amsterdam to New York, as part of the Dawson's Field hijackings, which were a series of simultaineous hijackings the PFLP carried out. The hijacking was foiled when Israeli skymarshals killed Arguello & overpowered Leila, striking her unconcious. Leila had previously recieved strict orders not to kill or injure passengers on the flight, & never used the 2 grenades found on her.
The pilot landed in London, where Leila was arrested. About a month later, on October 1st,1970, the British goverment released Leila as part of a prisoner exchange.
The following year, 1971, the PFLP stopped their hijacking tactics.
While jailed in London, Leila developed a fondness for Britain. She had also developed a relationship of sorts with 2 police assigned to guard her, & later kept in contact with them. Leila even continued to return to Britain for some speaking engagements up until as late as 2002, but was recently refused a Visa by the British embassy.
Leila Khalid now says that she no longer believes in hijacking as a legitimate form of protest, but she is very upset & wary of recent Israel/Palestine conflicts. Leila has said, " It's not a peace process. It's a political process where the balance of forces is for the Israeli's 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."
Leila has become involved in politics, & has become a member of the Palestinian National Council & appears quite often at the World Social Forum.
Today, Leila Khalid lives with her husband, doctor Fayez Rashid, & her 2 sons Bader & Bashar in Amman, Jordon.
Leila Khalid shattered taboos & revolutionized the thinking of many other angry young women around the globe. Although many people feel Leila justified violence, & was a "terrorist", many more are inspired by her.
When asked if she was a terrorist, Leila replied, " Whenever I hear this word I ask another question. Who planted terrorism in our area? Some came and took our land, forced us to leave, forced us to live in camps. I think this is terrorism. Using means to resist this terrorism and stop it's effects---this is called struggle."
She adds, " The struggle of the Palestinians has taken many faces. Armed struggle, intifada, and now both. Which means as long as there is occupation in our country, the conflict will continue."

For a great interview of Leila Khalid by the BBC News Click