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Palestine's Laila Khalid

Defender of Freedom or Terrorist?

By Naveed Published 2 months ago 3 min read
Laila Khalid

I am Laila Khalid, a Palestinian refugee for 75 years and a member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, currently residing in Jordan (Oman). These are my introductory words, shared in a recent interview following the October 7, 2023 attack on Israel by Hamas and the subsequent Israeli counter-attack.

During the interview, I emphasized that the Israeli attacks, purportedly targeting Hamas, affect innocent civilians, including children and women. I referred to it as genocide and dismissed the Israeli minister's claim that "Gaza will become smaller after this war." According to me, the global support for the Palestinian cause signifies that Gaza's resilience extends worldwide, despite the challenges faced by our people.

I am renowned for my role in hijacking two Israeli planes in 1969 and 1970, demanding the independence of Palestine. These actions marked a turning point, drawing global attention to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Born on April 9, 1944, in Haifa, Palestine, my childhood was marked by insecurity and fear due to conflicts between different groups, British forces, and the Zanis military.

In 1948, at the age of four, I, along with my mother and siblings, moved to South Lebanon due to escalating violence in Haifa. The memory of arriving at my maternal uncle's house and being told not to touch the oranges because "your oranges are in Palestine" has stayed with me, instilling a deep sense of longing for my homeland.

Palestine's transformation into Israel displaced many, creating refugees who sought shelter in neighboring countries. The promise of a homeland for Jews led to the displacement of existing inhabitants, and the plight of Palestinian refugees persists to this day.

The Arab-Israeli war in 1967 further complicated the situation, with Israel occupying territories. In 1959, I joined the Arab Nationalist Union, following my elder brother's footsteps. Despite facing financial challenges, I briefly attended the American University of Beirut in 1963 before working as an English teacher in Kuwait. In 1969, I joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and underwent military training in Jordan.

My first major mission involved hijacking a plane in 1969 to draw attention to Palestinian prisoners and the broader issue. Despite facing criticism, the operation successfully shed light on the Palestinian cause. In 1970, a second mission to hijack a plane from Germany to New York faced challenges, resulting in the death of my comrade, Patrick Argiola. The failed attempt, however, contributed to raising global awareness.

Facing media scrutiny, I challenged stereotypes of Arab women, emphasizing the equality of men and women in the fight for freedom. Despite accusations of terrorism, I asserted that resisting occupation was the true fight for justice.

Now, at 79, I continue my political activism, advocating for Palestinian women's rights and playing a leadership role. My life story has been documented in various forms, including a biography titled "My People Shall" and a documentary called "Laila Khalid Hijacker." Married to Dr. Fayaz Rashid with two sons, my family resides in Oman, where I remain committed to the ongoing struggle for Palestinian rights.

(In preparation for this article, internet articles, YouTube and documentaries have been used.)

I want to just say, "Thank you," if you are still reading so... Thank you. I know this is kind of rambling at this point. It means a lot if you are willing to read this and maybe even some of my other pieces, especially the ones that I ended up linking in this piece. I want to add an even bigger thank you to some of my friends that write on Vocal and read (and sometimes heart) my pieces. It means so much to me.


About the Creator


Let me submit, writing and solitude are essential. Writing is not possible in Mahfil Yaran. Why a person writes, how he writes, why he thinks, nothing can be said with certainty.

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Comments (26)

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  • Echoes of Infinity3 days ago

    Wow amazing

  • Great very nice

  • Movie Foo16 days ago

    Very nice and amazing story

  • Novel Allenabout a month ago

    Interesting conversation, I don't agree with hijacking planes to make a point, why people continue wars is beyond understanding, violence stems from one bad action leading t another, in-fighting is a horrible thing, like my African ancestors did, and our modern day trend still following in their footsteps. It never ends...we are doomed to repeat our mistakes.

  • Mariann Carrollabout a month ago

    An interesting article. The sad part about war, innocent children are caught in the middle

  • B.R. Shenoyabout a month ago

    Interesting piece!

  • L.C. Schäferabout a month ago

    Thank you for sharing this 🙏

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    Nice story, Naveed. She was and is brave. I'm glad she is not in Gaza now.

  • Jone Issacabout a month ago

    Fascinating story

  • Catherine Nyomendaabout a month ago

    All we need is prayers because a lot of disturbing news arises every day concerning the war in Israel. It shall be well and this was good research. Keep it up,

  • Tushar1770about a month ago

    "Well-researched & clearly articulated . This article effectively communicates complex ideas in an accessible manner.

  • Fascinating history!

  • Aaliyah Madison2 months ago

    "While I may not agree with every aspect of Laila's past actions, I respect Laila's commitment to freedom and justice."

  • Kodah2 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this Naveed! Loved this a lot❤️

  • Michael Oregbuyide2 months ago

    Amazing piece my dear

  • Andrew Zuk2 months ago

    "Thank you Naveed for continuing to speak truth to power. Your voice makes a difference, and your message of resilience inspires us all."

  • Revathi Thangavel2 months ago

    Informative article and it is a brilliant approach to convey Laila Khalid's life history.

  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    I really like how you tell her story in first person, as if she is talking to us! Brilliant. You pose a question, "Defender of Freedom or Terrorist?" I am not in a position to decide, but I can tell that this is very important to you and you have done a fine job of writing her story, Naveed!

  • Mark Coughlin2 months ago

    Some would say that terrorist acts are justifiable means to achieve political ends. Others would unilaterally condemn any such act as mindless violence for the sole purpose of inflicting the most damage psychological, political and generational as possible. The terrorists don't care if civilians on either side are killed, it serves their purpose to garner sympathy. It breeds endless war, and the elite of the world are just fine with that, because it's "good for business". Somebody is eventually going to have to just stop killing, before everyone is dead.

  • Vishnu2 months ago

    Naveed, thank you for providing such a comprehensive and insightful article on Laila Khalid's remarkable life.

  • The Dani Writer2 months ago

    A great piece to write and share Naveed! I remain submerged in emotions with my 'work in progress' concerning Palestine. A part of my heart surely beats there.

  • Lacy Loar-Gruenler2 months ago

    Naveed, I have been having trouble understanding what led up to Oct 7 because everybody I have asked, and everything I have read contradicts someone else or another article. You have done a wonderful job in this top-rate piece of journalism. Kudos. I feel I know much more than I did before reading it. Keep up the fine work! I'll be reading more of your pieces!

  • JBaz2 months ago

    Naveed, there is so much heart placed with in these words it is over whelming. Until the recent events this part of the world was only part of the 'News' for me. Most of my life it has been there but i never fully understood. I have since read and studied the history and find myself in a conflicting place. Mostly sad for the average person who this affects. I would like to see this become a TS.

  • Gerard DiLeo2 months ago

    Being a 2nd-generation American of Italian descent, I've had to earn everything I've ever learned about this conflict--info not being part of any regular curriculum. How do you fix a contradiction? How do you make an oxymoron live peacefully with each of its component words? How do you reconcile two homelands on the same land? With geography? The timeline? When different definitions and world view collide, people — who understand fully neither side — die. If we're looking for a solution that pleases everyone, could it be there is no solution? Will it always be unfinished business? Every day I feel for all those who suffer.

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