(IsraelNN.com) The ringleader of the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro ship will be expelled from Italy to Syria, the Associated Press reports. Youssef Magied al-Molqui has served only 23 years of his 30-year jail sentence for his role in the hijacking and murder of wheelchair-bound Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer.
Italy’s Attorney General Gianfranco Pagano said that Molqui was to be flown on Saturday from his holding cell in Sicily to Rome and then onto Damascus.
Molqui's claim that he should not be expelled due to his marriage to an Italian citizen was rejected by an Italian court. Nor did his claim to being stateless - he is a descendant of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel - prevent his expulsion order.
He escaped in 1996 while on leave from prison, but was recaptured and returned to jail.
Molqui and three other members of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) terrorist group hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship off the coast of Egypt in 1985. The hijackers demanded the release of 50 terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails.
During the incident, the hijackers also murdered wheelchair-bound American citizen Leon Klinghoffer and threw his body overboard. Klinghoffer, 69, was singled out because he was Jewish.
A second hijacker, Ibrahim Abdel-Atif, was released from prison last year and is also fighting a deportation order. Abdel-Atif also has no citizenship, as his country of birth, Lebanon, refuses to grant citizenship to descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel.
The United States has never yet punished anyone for the murder of Klinghoffer, nor for the other acts of terrorism committed by the Achille Lauro hijackers against U.S. citizens. Al-Molqui ought to be the first, his prison sentence in Italy notwithstanding.
The United States does not have an extradiction treaty with Syria, and it is extremely doubtful the Syrians would cooperate with us on this matter, in any case. But do we need Syria's cooperation? Isn't this - now declasssified - 1995 Presidential Decision Directive regarding terrorist rendition still in effect?
Return of Indicted Terrorists to the U.S. for Prosecution:
We shall vigorously apply extraterritorial statutes to counter acts of terrorism and apprehend terrorists outside of the United States. When terrorists wanted for violation of U.S. law are at large overseas, their return for prosecution shall be a matter of the highest priority and shall be a continuing central issue in bilateral relations with any state that harbors or assists them. Where we do not have adequate arrangements, the Departments of State and Justice shall work to resolve the problem, where possible and appropriate, through negotiation and conclusion of new extradition treaties. (U)
If we do not receive adequate cooperation from a state that harbors a terrorist whose extradition we are seeking, we shall take appropriate measures to induce cooperation. Return of suspects by force may be effected without the cooperation of the host government, consistent with the procedures outlined in NSD-77, which shall remain in effect. (S)
President Obama's Executive Order of January 22, 2009 does not revoke PDD-39, so what is there to stop him from ordering the forcible rendition of Al-Molqui? His crimes were committed against citizens of the United States, and simple justice demands that he be punished for them by the United States. Twenty-three years of enduring bad pasta frajule in an Italian prison does not settle his bill with us. He still has an ass-kicking coming to him from Leon Klinghoffer's homeland.
Rendition - whether it's ordinary or extraordinary, regular or extra crispy - is what this case calls for.