George Habash; Arab nationalist and hijack planner, Jan. 26 George Habash, the founder of Arab nationalism and architect of the infamous airline hijackings of the 1960s and '70s that brought the search for a Palestinian homeland terrifyingly close to home for millions around the world, died of a heart attack on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008, in Amman, Jordan. He was believed to be 82. With a wave of airline hijackings and the headline-grabbing seizure of a French airliner at Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976, Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) inspired an image of ruthlessness in a Western psyche unattuned to the violent politics of the Middle East. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had supported them, Habash and his radical contemporaries found themselves increasingly marginalized, hidden away in secret offices in Syria while the Palestine Liberation Organization's mainstream moved toward accommodation with Israel and the West. Habash, left, is shown here with Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi, center, and the late Yasser Arafat at the Arab nations summit in 1977.
Associated Press/ Claudio Luffoli
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