Palestine Liberation Front (PLF)
The Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) broke away from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) in the mid-1970s. The PLF later split again into pro-PLO, pro-Syrian, and pro-Libyan factions. The Pro-PLO faction is led by Muhammad Abbas (Abu Abbas), who became a member of the PLO Executive Committee in 1984 but left it in 1991.
Organization activities. The Abu Abbas-led faction is known for aerial attacks against Israel. Abbas's group also was responsible for the attack in 1985 on the cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer. Following a brief standoff, Egypt granted free passage to the hijackers in exchange for the release of the ship and remaining hostages. The plane carrying the hijackers to refuge in Tunisia was intercepted by U.S. Navy jets and diverted to Italy. Although Abbas's coconspirators were rapidly convicted and sentenced to prison, Abbas was freed by the Italian authorities, who claimed they had insufficient evidence to detain him. Abbas was, however, subsequentely convicted in absentia of masterminding the hijacking.
Abu Abbas was found in Baghdad following Operation Iraqi Freedom and as of April 2003, was in U.S. custody. Abbas had been cited by President George W. Bush as an example of terrorists given safe haven by the Saddam Hussein regime. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. marines found bombmaking equipment, explosives, gas masks, and other weapons at a large PLF training facility east of Baghdad.
The size of the PLF is unknown; the PLO faction was based in Tunisia until the Achille Lauro attack, and then in Iraq until Operation Iraqi Freedom. Prior to the military action in Iraq the PLF received support mainly from Saddam Hussein's regime. The PLF also has received support from Libya.
█ FURTHER READING:
Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook, 2002. < http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ > (April 16, 2003).
Taylor, Francis X. U.S. Department of State. Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001. Annual Report: On the Record Briefing. May 21, 2002. < http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/10367.htm > (April 17, 2003).
U.S. Department of State. Annual reports. < http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/annual_reports.html > (April 16, 2003).