LONDON (Sep. 15)
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine announced today three demands for the release of 54 hijacked airline hostages it holds captive in Jordan. The demands were stated publicly for the first time at a PFLP press conference in Beirut. They called for separate direct negotiations with each of the governments involved; agreement by Israel to free commandos in its custody in return for hostages; and freedom for two Algerian nationals detained by Israel last month after landing there in a British airliner in transit. A PFLP spokesman said the number and identities of the commandos that Israel would have to free would be announced only after Israel publicly acknowledged its agreement to release them. The PFLP demands seemed, if anything, to worsen the impasse in negotiations for release of the hostages. Israel has refused to free any guerrillas in its jails and has said repeatedly that it will have no dealings with the PFLP, directly or indirectly. The other nations whose nationals are being held hostage–United States, Britain, Switzerland and West Germany–have so far refused to negotiate separately with the commandos.
HIJACKERS SAY TREATING U.S. HOSTAGES “ON SAME BASIS AS ISRAELIS”
The United States holds no Arab prisoners whom it could exchange for its nationals. The PFLP said last night that the American hostages would be treated “on the same basis as Israelis,” indicating that they would not be released unless Israel agreed to release Arab commandos. According to the best information available here, 37 or 38 of the hostages are U.S. citizens, though no more than three are believed to hold dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, a downward revision of the figure of 19 dual nationals reported yesterday. One source reported that the terrorists had inadvertently released a handful of bona fide Israeli citizens–no more than five–along with some 250 other hijack victims set free Saturday. A commando source reportedly said that any American hostage with an Israeli visa in his passport would be regarded as an Israeli. The commandos have reportedly submitted a list of 600 of their men they want freed by Israel. “Our demands are clear and there is no room for retreat,” a PFLP spokesman said in Amman. “We have decided to close the door to all mediation efforts and contacts.” The whereabouts of the remaining hostages has been a mystery since the terrorists blew up the three hijacked airliners Saturday. Commando spokesmen said they were taken in threes to different hideouts
The PFLP meanwhile was reported to be at odds with most of the other Palestinian commando groups which belatedly denounced the hijackings because of the damage they did to the Arab cause. According to one source, the Marxist-oriented PFLP, the most militant but one of the smallest of the terrorist organizations, has been emboldened by support from Communist China. Its leader, Dr. George Habash, was visiting China and North Korea when the hijackings were carried out. The destruction of four Western aircraft valued at more than $50 million by the PFLP was carried out after Dr. Habash got a promise from China of more guns and bombs, the source said. It was disclosed yesterday that the hijacker killed in an abortive attempt to seize an El Al airliner off the British coast on Aug. 30 was an American citizen. U.S. authorities have identified him as Patrick Joseph Anguello who was born in San Francisco in 1943 and was graduated from UCLA in 1966. Anguello was described as a resident of Nicaragua, his father’s native country, and was known to have been active politically in Latin America. His accomplice, Laila Khaled, a 24-year-old girl commando born in Haifa, has been in British custody since the hijack attempt. Her release has been demanded by the PFLP and Israel has demanded her extradition.