Leila Khaled: Hijacker (2006) Movie Script

The woman over there,
with the cases, is a terrorist.
With two hand grenades
taped to her waist
and a pistol tucked
into her panties
she became the first woman
ever to hi-jack an airplane.
That's why she became my idol.
Supposing during any of these
operations she was killed
- what would you think then,
your own sister?
Yes, I would feel proud for that she is...
she's one of a freedom fighter...
for their own land and
for their own country...
There is no way how to use
terror against civilians.
You can't justify it.
There is no way.
They trained for it and
went for it.
And I don't think it has helped
them at all, to tell you the truth.
I really don't think it
has helped them at all.
From a distance you
could tell that they were young.
She especially was
young and attractive.
I mean, she was a striking individual
that you wouldn't associate
with a hijacking.
A not unattractive girl, the Palestinians feels
she gives the movement a touch of glamour.
War is war.
We have to fight our enemy
until we go back to our country.
Our demands and
conditions are very clear:
The release of comrade Leila Khaled.
What are they going to do...
when they'll be free?
This young lady will go to a convent?
She will get married and raise children?
If it does good for my cause,
I'll be happy to accept death.
The story of Leila Khaled
begins in Haifa.
An lsraeli port
on the Mediterranean Sea.
She was born here
on the 9th of April 1944.
At that time, Haifa
was part of Palestine.
This is the earliest photo
of Leila Khaled.
She's the one to the left
of her brothers and sisters
standing in front of the family
home on Stanton Street.
Far away from
what's going on in Europe...
Just one month
after this photo was taken
Leila turns four and becomes a refugee.
Palestine becomes lsrael.
The victims of the Holocaust have,
after years in exile,
a country they can call their own.
Journey's end.
The first of ten thousand Jewish
refugees arrive at Haifa.
Reunions between long lost relations
now write a happy ending to a tragic story.
But the situation in
the new nation is untenable.
These men are members of
the Jewish terrorist group
known as the Stern Gang,
best known for the assassination
of Folke Bernadotte,
the Swedish UN negotiator.
On Leila's fourth birthday,
they kill hundreds of people
in the village of Deir Yassin.
The Palestinian population
is in panic.
Leila's family does
what everybody else does.
They leave their home
in fear of their lives.
Leila's father stays in Haifa to fight
in the Arab-lsraeli war,
to get his home back.
The rest of the family flees to Lebanon.
Life in Lebanon is about endurance.
And waiting.
Everything will be fine
if they can Just return.
This photo was taken in 1967.
It's one of the few photos
in which Leila is smiling.
Maybe because she has just
packed her bags
and bought a one-way ticket to Haifa.
She's convinced she will at last return.
This is the man who raised her hopes.
The Egyptian president,
Gamal Abdel Nasser.
He has promised that
the Palestinians will return.
Today, the President said:
if lsrael threatens war, we are ready.
At last he has come, the leader
that would demand their return.
To many outside Egypt he became
a symbol of resistance
to western colonialism and imperialism.
He's defied lsrael and its
powerful allies in the West.
The world holds its breath.
And Leila Khaled believes him.
Exile will soon be a distant memory.
The time has come.
On June the fifth lsraeli planes struck
the Egyptian air force on the ground.
Hero today of the Jewish people,
general Mosche Dayan, defense minister
and architect of the swiftest, most
overwhelming victory of all times.
The dream is smashed to pieces.
lsrael occupies the rest of Palestine.
The mighty leader's
promise meant nothing.
It is now Leila realizes;
no one else is going to help them.
She'll have to do it herself.
Nice day, nice Mediterranean day.
Clear weather. We just passed
the Italian port of Brindisi
and one of the flight attendants had asked
permission to come in to the cockpit.
When she opened the door, the gentleman
who was accompanying Leila
trust her aside and came in.
"This is the Palestinian movement
taking over your airplane."
And he was armed with a pistol.
You Just looked at them and:
"What's going on?"
She was very fashionably dressed,
all in white...
A white floppy hat, white tunic and
white trousers and also a...
Yes, she was pretty young and
she had a man with her as well.
They were both wearing
sunglasses, I think.
She took out a hand grenade which
she took the pin out of
to demonstrate that it was a real weapon
and if we decided to overtake her
it would of course detonate and would
probably have severe consequences.
I think the captain first said,
"We have been hijacked."
We sort of looked at each other and,
you know, is this real or not?
Then they told us all
to sit in our places
with our hands behind our heads.
And then people started to...
to feel uncomfortable and
some started crying.
Mom turned to us and calmed us
down and gave us rosaries.
I forgot that until she mentioned it,
but I do remember holding the rosaries
that we had gotten in Rome.
And we said, "What do you want to do?"
"Well just fly."
So we talked to air traffic control:
"This is TWA flight 840 and..."
"Oh no, you are not flight 840 anymore..."
Ladies and gentlemen,
your attention please...
This is your new captain speaking
Shadia Abu Ghazali...
The Che Guevara command unit of the
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
which has taken over command
of this TWA flight.
Then they flew over lsrael.
Fighter planes came up on
both sides of the plane...
And then they also talked to the ones
on the ground, saying:
"Well, we're here... ha ha...
like, what can you do about it?"
And now we are becoming a little insistent
that they tell us were they would
ultimately like to land.
Because in a not too far distant
future we were going to land
whether they wanted to or not,
because we would be running out of fuel.
So finally they said:
"Well, let's go to Damascus."
And ultimately we did.
We landed at the brand spanking new
piece of concrete at Damascus.
I remember at the very end
when we had landed, come to a halt
that she came over the
loudspeaker and said:
"Please get out,
there's a bomb on the plane."
Everyone was calm and
there was no problem.
The plane made a nice landing
and all the passengers got out.
There was an lsraeli assassin on board
who was responsible for the deaths of
many Arab women and children, and all
they wanted to do was to bring this
assassin to a friendly Arab city
and give him a fair trial.
That's all they wanted, really.
But the lsraeli assassin
wasn't on the plane.
At the last moment,
he decided not to take Flight 840.
The assassin was the lsraeli
ambassador to the United States
Yitzhak Rabin.
Leila and her companion
are detained by the Syrian police
but mostly for the
sake of appearances.
They are both released
after three weeks.
The hi-Jacking is still a success.
Leila and the Palestinians
are suddenly world famous.
Foreign newspapers start reporting
on the situation in the Middle-East.
Leila, however, has disappeared.
Nobody knows where she is.
Some say she is being protected
by her organization,
the PFLP, the Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine.
Another rumor says she has
visited a Lebanese plastic surgeon
to change her appearance.
- Hello, is this Leila Khaled?
- Yes.
Hello, my name is Lina Makboul
and I'm calling from Sweden.
I have read about you and I would
like to make a film about you.
- A film?
Its early morning when
Leila Khaled and her companion
Patrick Arguello, board Flight 219
from Amsterdam to New York.
The PFLP has planned
a synchronized attack.
A number of planes will be
hi-jacked at the same time
and converge on
Dawson Field in Jordan.
Leila's mission is to hi-Jack
an lsraeli EL AL plane.
But this time, nothing
goes according to plan.
I told my security man to
come to the cockpit.
Something is wrong,
I don't know what, I don't feel easy...
I was inside prepared already
to something which I didn't realize.
We where in the air sailing smoothly.
I was reading and they were very quiet.
They didn't say a word to anyone neither to
themselves, to one another nor to me.
And then suddenly he rose, and he let
out a bellow, an animal-like bellow.
And he had this little tiny pistol in his hand...
A few seconds later we started to hear
knocking very hard on the door
which was closed.
Flight engineer looks through,
we had some way to look what's going on.
He says: "Look, I see a woman
with two handgrenades."
"I see a man with a gun pointing to a man."
And few seconds later we heard
the voice saying:
"Open the door. if you don't open, we are
going to shoot the person".
At this time I had to play God.
I am going now to put the airplane
into a negative G.
Instead of flying like this,
it goes like this.
So everybody... there is no floor
so he must fall down.
We felt that the airplane was going up
and down in a few strong movements.
At the same time this happened, some guy
got up behind the woman and disarmed her...
got the grenades away from her.
There was approximately three shoots fired.
A security man apparently
killed the male hijacker.
A steward is wounded.
EL AL flight 219 is forced to make
an emergency landing in London.
Where Leila is detained.
Leila Khaled has been held here at the
Ealing headquarters of exdivision.
She's being detained under the alien's
order in a cell 12 feet by 10
and she is accompanied 24 hours a day
by two woman police officers.
In custody, Leila's concern
is for her companion.
She's unaware that the PFLP
has succeeded in its mission.
Three planes have been forced to
land at Dawson Field in Jordan.
And all the passengers
are held hostage.
All women and children who should
have been released were released.
Our demands and conditions are very
clear and we will not go back on them.
These conditions are...
the release of comrade Leila Khaled and
the martyr's body and their arrival to a
safe place in exchange for
the British hostages.
What are they going to do
when they'll be free?
She will try to do it again.
A reliable source has confirmed that the
blowing up of the planes was intended
as a warning to the British government.
She will do it again.
To kill lsraelis-men, women and children
this is what their organization stands for.
At 7 pm London announced in Arabic
that Britain would swap Leila for hostages.
An astonishing step for a British Government.
She will be taken from here Just a few miles
down the road to a north held airport
from where she will be flown
back to the Middle East.
And Leila Khaled walked away free,
to take her place in Palestinian history.
My name is Lina.
I was brought up in Sweden
by Palestinian parents.
I'm sitting in a taxi
on my way to meet Leila Khaled.
She was my teenage idol.
She was brave and beautiful.
And she was Palestinian.
And we both wanted the same thing.
A free Palestine.
While the men sat in cafes
and complained about oppression,
she went out and
did something about it.
Now I'm an adult and things
are not quite that simple.
I now realise that the people in
those planes were human beings.
Innocent people returning
from their holidays.
All my life, people have started
discussing terrorism and hi-jackings
as soon as my roots come
up in the conversation.
And it was Leila Khaled
who gave us this bad reputation.
But I guess I'm still a bit curious
about what she did.
And I still want
a Palestine that is free.
But I don't know if we will agree
on how far you can go
to achieve that freedom.
- I'm not sitting nicely.
- Ok.
- I like to sit like this.
- OK, you will only be seen to here.
That's not what it's about.
It's not right for a woman to sit like this.
- I see. And how does a woman sit?
- Like this with one leg in front of the other.
We have tape thirteen in A-camera and
tape seven in B-camera...
Lina, go ahead with marker now!
You became pretty famous after the
first hi-jacking. How did that feel?
For a while I felt I was
very important person.
But then I became scared,
scared of myself.
I was scared I would
suffer delusions of grandeur.
That's why I moved
to a refugee camp.
I asked the PFLP for somewhere to
live so I could get back to reality.
Miss Khaled, is it possible that you can say
any more to us at this stage?
You don't want to talk at this stage?
May we possibly come and see you later?
What kind of questions
did they ask you?
Some Journalists asked
very personal questions.
They asked - was I in love?
That annoyed me.
Who did they think I was?
I'm a fighter. Ask me about my work!
One asked me how long I usually
stood in front of the mirror.
I said: "What kind of question is that?"
They thought I was unfeminine.
As if I wasn't human.
One of them wondered if I was in love.
"Did I have a boyfriend?"
I said: "No!"
After, he wrote that I was a cold
person who couldn't fall in love.
These were the sort of questions I got.
One asked if I've had sex.
What questions!
Am I an actress or a dancer maybe?
One of my answers shocked them.
I said it was easier to hi-jack
an airplane than to teach.
One asked: "What do you mean?"
My pupils never stopped
talking when I told them to.
On the airplane, everybody did.
Wasn't it a bit much,
changing your face?
I was going to hi-jack another plane
and I didn't want to be recognised.
I was to hi-Jack an EL AL plane and
my photo was everywhere.
It was definitely necessary.
I've seen photos of you.
You were very beautiful.
- Weren't you afraid of becoming ugly?
- I was in the middle of the fight...
I cared about our goal,
not my appearance.
For example, Che Guevara was a womanizer.
He had one in every town.
I mean, were you something like that?
Wasn't your life more than
- the struggle for Palestine?
- Naturally.
I invited my friends home.
We cooked and ate together.
When my mother cooked a speciality,
I invited my friends home.
Specially those who missed their mothers.
Sometimes we went swimming.
In Sweden people sometimes ask me
why the Palestinian struggle is so serious.
There's no humor. No Jokes about
how we fled in 1948.
Why is it so?
Serious? There was a disaster
that happened to a people.
Massacres in Deir Yassin, Kibya and Tantura.
What is the Joke about that?
The Jews Joke about what
happened to them.
- So?
- Why can't we?
I wonder what's funny about it?
What's the point of jokes like that?
Today, Leila lives with her husband
and their two sons in Amman in Jordan.
Look into the camera.
Don't move.
That's it.
Thank you.
Her life is pretty restricted.
She can't travel as
freely as she wants.
And we were hardly allowed
to film her on the streets of Amman.
She works at the Palestinian
National Council office.
Her life is quite ordinary.
I'd like the large loaf.
Please take bread.
If you take your places and one of
us serves, we will have more room.
You didn't try the salad?
- Don't you like the salad?
- Sure! I'm eating.
- Take another skewer!
- No thanks, I'm fine.
- It's good!
- But I've had enough.
Had enough?
You've hardly eaten!
Have you already eaten
at your relative's?
What are your thoughts about 9/11?
I don't agree with the murder of civilians,
wherever it is in the world.
- Could you be described as a terrorist?
- Our enemies say so.
Our enemies call any form
of popular resistance terrorism.
What you did was an act of terrorism.
Who decides and defines
what terrorism is?
As far as I'm concerned,
occupation is terrorism.
My people and
I have a right to fight it.
I don't care what others call it.
People have a right to fight those who
occupy their country by all means
possible including weapons.
That's what it says in the UN declaration.
But Leila, if you look up "terrorist"
in a dictionary?
You, the whole of Sweden and Europe
and the USA can travel to Haifa.
But I can't, I'm not allowed to.
Not just me. 5 million Palestinians
can't see Palestine.
Israel doesn't care about international law.
Why should we accept that?
What have we done to deserve this?
We have suffered a lot.
Why is what I did wrong?
Isn't it our right to resist?
When we hi-Jacked the planes the
whole world wondered who we were.
Regardless of what they thought
about it, they wondered.
But when we were tortured in lsraeli
prisons, who heard our screams?
We had to do what we did in
order to get your attention.
Our people suffered in Justice.
No sound person accepts that!
No one.
The PFLP used children
in the struggle.
Yes, children came to the
camps for training.
They were there to learn
what we were doing.
We gave them schooling.
But is it right to use children
in the struggle?
Is it right that a child's mother is
killed in an lsraeli attack?
You mean you could send
your own children?
If that's what my children choose
to do, then they may do it.
What's the problem?
- So you have nothing against it?
- Not at all.
My children are not worth more
than other Palestinian children.
They have freedom of choice.
If we were living in Palestine, my children
would be demonstrating and throwing stones.
It would have been only natural.
But now they're here, not there.
They quite simply haven't had
the opportunity.
She takes me to Shatila.
A Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.
Leila says that this is where
the real Palestinians live.
Not in the Swedish, middle-class
suburb where I was brought up.
Open the window. I'm suffocating!
Open that one too.
I'm dying...
I can't stand this heat.
And now we're almost flying away...
Shatila is known for one thing only;
The massacre of 1982.
We love Palestine.
We fight, whatever the price.
The price is high,
but we must return to Palestine.
If not today,
then tomorrow or the next day.
I have always dreamt
of walking beside you.
You know Leila Khaled?
She is a terrorist.
They want to make propaganda against her
that she was a terrorist.
But really she is not a terrorist.
She is a freedom fighter.
- How are you?
- Fine thanks. And you?
- I heard your wife had passed away.
- Yes she did.
My condolences.
- How are you?
- Fine. And you?
I don't need a wheelchair.
I need two!
- How are things with you?
- Not so good.
Do you live here alone?
I wash, clean and cook myself.
- Where are your daughters?
- They've left home.
- Why are you crying?
- I thank God anyway.
- A home without a woman is the pits.
- Where are your children?
They're all with their wives.
The youngest is in Ukraine.
Poverty forced me to stop smoking.
You'll probably never stop.
The PFLP educated us and
we follow their policy...
I'm no longer
a member but it's still there...
- In your blood?
- In my blood and my circulation.
- If Leila stops, we stop too...
- No, I'll never stop.
I saw you on TV the other day and I
wanted to kiss the screen.
I'm proud of you.
- That's not a compliment.
- I know.
- We've known each other so long...
- I promise, Leila...
When they said you were going to
visit, I could hardly wait!
- What's it like out there?
- It's not easy. it's hard.
- God protect us. Do you believe in God?
- Sort of...
- Yes, we must say so, I guess.
- Tell me honestly.
- Where are you going?
- Fare well.
- I'll be back as soon as I can.
- Dearest Leila...
May your wife rest in peace
and may God give you strength.
Don't cry. We have cried far
too much. Stop it now, man!
I love you.
I say to all Europeans that you
too can return to Palestine.
You can pray with us in the Al Aqsa
mosque and make it a pilgrimage.
Now we're going to demonstrate.
God help us.
Let's go. After you.
Thank you very much.
I'll explain why the
plane was hi-jacked.
We had to; to get attention
so that the world
would understand our cause.
We weren't refugees who
were satisfied with aid.
It wasn't a natural disaster
that made us refugees.
We captured the planes to
ask the world a question.
Who are the Palestinians?
What did the passengers have to do
with the Palestinian cause?
True. The passengers had
nothing to do with it.
We tried to explain to them
that we had to do what we did.
And nobody was killed
during these hijackings.
We extended their flights and there
were times when they were scared.
Quite honestly, we apologized the
whole time, but said that we had to.
When I began work on this film,
I expected to find some remorse in Leila...
That the years would have
made her more circumspect.
But now I realise
that she regrets nothing.
Maybe I'm the one
with the problem.
That I, with my
comfortable life in Sweden,
would want the struggle
for a free Palestine to be fought
with discreet diplomacy
rather than spectacular skyjackings.
Maybe I secretly admire her
for daring to do something
I'd never dare to do.
I am pretending to
look through my notes.
I am just about to ask her
if she realizes that she
has given the Palestinians a bad
- I smoke too much.
- Me too!
When I've finished this film,
I'll quit smoking.
There are quite a few things you're
going to do when it's finished.
You're going to get pregnant and
give us a cute boy or girl.
The question will have to wait.
How about if we film...
- A shot of you lying down resting.
- No, no.
- Why not?
- Never!
- Tell me why?
- You think...
Not in your room, here on the sofa.
Everyone needs rest.
Everybody knows that.
Do you need to film it?
Leila is resting!
Everybody rests some time.
We've got no footage
of you doing nothing.
- Yesterday we sat down and drank...
- You're always doing something!
Why don't you film me
when I'm taking a bath?
- That'd be great, if it's OK.
Sure... when I'm taking a bath...
You can watch me take a pee if you want.
Leila Khaled undergoes
plastic surgery six times.
She is held in detention in
Syria and Britain.
She hi-Jacks two airplanes
and becomes world famous.
As I understand it, there's just
one reason:
she wants to go back home.
I travel to Haifa to see for myself
what it is she wants to go back to.
And I find her childhood home
on what used to be Stanton Street.
This is what it looks like today.
You have said that what you want is
to get to Haifa and Palestine.
I have seen your home
and it's about to collapse.
What do you really want?
I have a dream,
when Palestine is liberated
I'm going to sleep
under a tree for three days.
I want to smell the soil.
It's not the house. it's my country.
We can build a new house.
The important thing is to go back.
- To Haifa?
- Of course.
We were there and found your home.
We couldn't take the house with us,
but we brought this.
- It's a tile from your house.
- That's incredible!
The photographer went in and got the tile.
I don't know if you...
it's tiling from my home...
I can't believe it!
Come and sit down.
We will go there too...
But I'm not going
to fetch the house for you!
Now you got her started.
I'm going to meet Uri Bar-Lev,
the pilot of the plane you hi-jacked.
He said to me... by the way,
he doesn't like you.
Do you have anything
you want to ask him?
Why would I want to
ask him anything?
His answers don't interest me.
What language should I use
with an occupier?
As long as the enemy occupies our
country, there's nothing to discuss.
Those are photographs which I did.
It's part of lsrael.
So you know how to drive a plane and
you can take pictures.
Not too difficult.
- And even to cook.
- That's good.
Can you understand why she did it?
There is no way how to use terror
against civilians. There is no way.
How can you justify air terror?
How can you justify any kind of terror?
What is a freedom fighter?
What is that?
A terrorist - I know what it is.
It's a person who kills civilians.
What is a freedom fighter?
You just cover the gun with something?
You Just put the knife with a nice cloth?
A red cloth or a nice one.
What is it?
Just a word.
There you are.
- So tell us, is this for co-pilot?
- That's co-pilot.
Three stripes.
Can you understand why
she hijacked the plane?
I know the reasons that they give,
but to understand it...
I say yes, I can say that.
I can say yes, I think I understand.
But that doesn't imply agreement.
An eye for an eye and
soon we are all blind.
- We're going to see Leila again soon...
- Yes.
Do you want to say anything to her?
I really don't know what I'd want to say to her.
No... not directly but...
On the whole, in conflicts like these where
innocent people are involved...
that don't have anything to do
with their cause, it's a bit cynical.
I don't hold any grudges...
they didn't hurt me...
it's still a shame that it's the way it is...
that the Palestinians
don't have a country.
Do you know the story of Leila's background,
that she was forced to leave her home in 1948?
Of course she was forced.
Again, there is so much false information here...
that people don't know them.
I read her book.
The book is full of lies and if you want,
the book is here in English and I can show you.
This is lie, this is lie, this is lie...
As far as Haifa is concerned, it's very easy
to show where the lies are...
because Haifa was a combined city
between Arabs and Jews.
When the independent war broke...
Not because we agreed to the separation...
lsrael agreed to be a very small country.
We were attacked by the Arabs.
It was not vice versa.
So she lived in Haifa.
She was a small child.
She was not forced, her parents
decided to leave Haifa.
- Have you ever heard about the
Deir Yassin massacre?
- Yes, of course.
- Did that happen?
- Deir Yassin happened.
It was one place, 20 or 40 people were killed.
I don't know how many.
Who killed them?
A Jewish group, part of the army.
This time the army was not an army yet.
It was the paramilitary... it was before the
establishment of lsrael.
Okay, there was a case like this, yes.
I'm confused.
Isn't terrorism always wrong?
Maybe it isn't.
The Stern Gang became
celebrated heroes.
One of them even became
the Prime Minister of lsrael.
We, the Palestinians, still live
with the bad reputation.
Maybe it's OK to be a terrorist...
if you win...
Which brings us back, to the
question I still haven't dared to ask.
- Hi Leila!
- How are you?
Fine. And you?
Did I wake you?
- No! it's not so late.
- OK.
Leila, I have a question.
The whole time I've wanted
to ask but I'm ashamed.
When you boarded the plane...
What I'm trying to say is...
Didn't you ever think
that what you were doing would
give the Palestinians a bad reputation?