The Foreign Service Journal, March 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2024 33 1985 Assisting American Hostages from the Achille Lauro After surviving his own detention by Palestinian guerrillas in Beirut 10 years earlier, FSO Edmund James Hull was deputy political counselor in Cairo when four Palestine Liberation Front terrorists hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro off the coast of Egypt with 11 Americans aboard. After the hijackers surrendered and the ship approached Port Said, Hull tells below of boarding to identify and assist Americans on board, then accompanying them to Italy, where in a stunning turn of events, they were able to identify the apprehended hijackers. Hull went on to become ambassador to Yemen. We knew [the ship] was coming into Port Said. So Ambassador [Nicholas] Veliotes asked me to accompany him to Port Said. I had a few minutes to pull my thoughts together, which included such practical things as getting a list of the names of the hostages as we knew them, and then we drove up to Port Said. … We actually met the boat at sea in Egyptian waters before it was able to come into Port Said. … We got onboard, and we found a traumatized crew and passengers. The hijackers had already been removed from the boat so … the first thing we did was to verify the well-being of the American citizens onboard. It was early morning, and the passengers were asleep in their cabins. I had my list of American passengers, so I systematically went around knocking on cabin doors. I found all but one passenger. Meanwhile, Ambassador Veliotes had engaged with the crew, who didn’t have a lot of English but who were by gesturing and pantomime explaining to us that something had happened … Leon Klinghoffer, an old and infirm American, had been killed by the terrorists. He was in a wheelchair at the time, and his body had been dumped over the side. The crew took me to the location, and you could still see on the side of the vessel bloodstains from where Mr. Klinghoffer’s body had struck the side in going overboard. … We had a very difficult situation because not only