For Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer, the pain endures. Ten years ago, their parents, Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer, boarded the Achille Lauro sail, Palestinian terrorists brutally shot their wheelchair-bound father and threw him overboard in the Mediterranean.
Klinghoffer’s daughters have since dedicated themselves to fighting the scourge of terrorism.
“Through their selfless and courageous efforts, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer transformed terrorism and its victims from the abstract and became – and remain – the personification of the threat of terrorism,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of Anti-Defamation League, at a Washington ceremony this week commemorating the 10th anniversary of Leon’s death.
Together with their mother, who has since died, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer established the Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation of the ADL in 1985 – a foundation dedicated to combating the threat of terrorism through education, legal and legislative means.
At the ceremony, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer were joined by ADL leaders and a senior Clinton administration official in marking the occasion with appeals to broaden anti-terrorism efforts, including the passage of anti-terrorism legislation in Congress.
“We cannot allow terrorists to gain a stronger foothold in this country,” Ilsa Klinghoffer said, referring to the bombings of the federal building in Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center in New York.
“We do not want other Americans to feel the pain of watching their parents being held hostage, tortured and murdered,” she said. “We want the government to have the power to protect our civil liberties.”
While in Washington, the Klinghoffers met with Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to discuss the urgency of passing anti-terrorism legislation.
The legislation, currently stalled in the House, would ban fund raising by terrorist groups, increase criminal sentences for convicted terrorists and give federal law enforcement agencies more tools to investigate suspected terrorists.
In his remarks, Samuel Berger, the Clinton administration’s deputy national security adviser, took aim at Congress’ slow movement on the bill.
“For all their `get tough’ rhetoric, the Congress has allowed this bill to languish for months,” Berger said. “Playing politics with the safety of the American people is flatly irresponsible.”
Klinghoffer’s death, he added, “reminds us why America must – and will – remain an aggressive leader in the global fight against terrorism.”