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Patrick Scott Baker, et al. v. Socialist People's Libyan Arab

February 25, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John M. Facciola U.S. Magistrate Judge



These actions came before this Court as the subject of an evidentiary hearing held on May 3-7, 2010. The action of Baker v. Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahirya, No. 03- CV-749, was filed on March 3, 2003; the action of Pflug v. Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahirya, No. 08-CV-505, was filed on March 24, 2008. The named Libyan defendants were dismissed from each of these actions pursuant to the enactment of the Libya Claims Resolution Act, Pub. L. No. 110-301, 122 Stat. 2999 (2008), but the plaintiffs' claims remain pending against the Syrian Arab Republic; the Syrian Air Force Intelligence agency, Idarat al-Mukhabarat al-Jawiyya; and Syria's Director of Military Intelligence, General Muhammad al-Khuli (hereinafter collectively the "Syrian defendants" or "Syria").


A. The EgyptAir Flight 648 Hijacking

1. On November 23, 1985, plaintiffs Baker, Pflug, and Rogenkamp, each of whom were American nationals, boarded EgyptAir Flight 648, which departed Athens at 9:05 pm Athens time. (Baker, T-2-47; Pflug, T-1-33; Rezaq, Pltf's Exh. 34 at 2741; Pltf's Exh. 35.)

2. EgyptAir Flight 648 was scheduled to fly directly to Cairo from Athens. (Baker, T-2-47; Pltf's Exh. 3.)

3. Approximately 10 minutes after leveling off, the plane was hijacked. (Baker, T-2-47-48.)

4. One of the hijackers began to taunt passengers on board by attempting to pull a pin out of a hand grenade while simultaneously brandishing a firearm. (Baker, T-2-48-51.)

5. During this time, Pflug was struck over the head with a gun by a hijacker. (Pflug, T-1-34.)

6. At 8:28 pm Malta time, three ANO hijackers, including Omar Mohammed Ali Rezaq, took control of the EgyptAir airliner. (Baker, T-2-84; Pflug, T-1-35; Pltf's Exh. 3.)

7. The ANO hijackers directed an EgyptAir flight attendant to go onto the aircraft intercom and say, "[w]e're being hijacked by the Egypt Revolution, and if you do what you are told, you will not get hurt." (Pflug, T-1-36.)

8. After taking control of EgyptAir Flight 648, the ANO hijackers began searching the passengers, collecting their passports and reseating them. (Baker, T-2-5; Pflug, T-1-39.)

9. The hijackers worked their way from the front of the plane to the back of the plane. (Pflug, T-1-39.)

10. Approximately thirty minutes after taking control of the plane, at approximately 9:00 pm Malta time, there was a shootout between an EgyptAir sky marshal (who was onboard the aircraft) and the hijackers. (Baker, T-2-52, 84; Pflug T-1-39; Pltf's Exh.3.)

11. The aircraft's fuselage was punctured by bullets, and the plane rapidly descended. (Baker, T-2-52-53; Pflug, T-1-41.)

12. Because of the need for fuel, EgyptAir Flight 648 landed at Malta's Luqa Airport at 10:16 pm. (Baker, T-2-84; Pltf's Exh. 3; Pflug, T-1-50; Baker, T-2-55.)

13. Shortly after landing in Malta, stairs were brought to the EgyptAir aircraft, and a medic was allowed onboard. (Baker, T-2-56.)

14. The medic certified that one of the hijackers shot during the shootout with the Egyptian air marshal was dead. (Baker, T-2-56.)

15. While the medic was taking the injured Egyptian air marshal off of the aircraft, Rezaq shot the air marshal in the back. (Baker, T-2-56.)

16. The hijackers then demanded fuel, and indicated that they were prepared to execute passengers in order to ensure their demands were met. (Lang, T-2-157.)

17. As the hijackers were waiting for the fuel to arrive, they called forward and released some of the passengers based on their nationalities, as determined from their respective passports. (Baker, T-2-57.)

18. The hijackers threatened to shoot a passenger every fifteen minutes if they did not receive fuel. (Pltf's Exh. 34 at 2783.)

19. Shortly after releasing some of the passengers, Omar Rezaq summoned the first Israeli passenger, Tamar Artzi, and shot her in the head, throwing her body off the aircraft onto the tarmac. It was midnight Malta time on November 24, 1985. (Baker, T-2-84; Pltf's Exh. 3.)

20. Pflug was seated next to an Australian man, who told Pflug that the first Israeli woman who was shot was moving on the tarmac. (Pflug, T-1-51.)

21. Pflug thought to herself (of the woman), "Whatever you do, don't move, just play dead." (Pflug, T-1-51.)

22. The hijackers, having discovered that the Israeli woman was still alive, shot her again while she lay on the tarmac. (Pflug, T-1-51).

23. Approximately fifteen minutes after Artzi was shot, at 12:15 am, a second Israeli passenger, Nitzan Mendelson, was dragged to the front of the aircraft and shot in the head by Omar Rezaq. (Baker, T-2-85; Pltf's Exh. 3.)

24. Her body was also thrown from the aircraft onto the tarmac. (Baker, T-2-58.)

25. After the two Israeli women were shot, Baker commented to a woman sitting next to him that he was going to be next. (Baker, T-2-58.)

26. Approximately 15 minutes after shooting the two Israeli passengers, the hijackers called the three American passengers-Baker, Pflug, and Rogenkamp-to the front of the plane. (Pflug, T-1-52; Baker, T-2-59.)

27. The three American passengers' hands were tied behind their backs with neckties, and they were seated in the first row on the starboard side of the plane. (Baker, T-2-59; Pflug, T-1-52.)

28. Shortly before 12:30 am Malta time, Baker was taken to the door of the aircraft. (Baker, T-2-60; Pltf's Exh. 3).

29. While standing at the door, Baker overheard a radio transmission broadcast from the Malta control tower: ""There is to be no more killing. The fuel is on its way." (Baker, T-2-60.)

30. Baker was allowed to sit down again. (Baker, T-2-60.)

31. Four and a half hours after the EgyptAir Flight 648 aircraft departed Athens, and four hours into the hijacking, after having witnessed the execution-style shooting of two other passengers, Baker was again brought to the door of the aircraft. Shortly after 12:30 am Malta time, he was shot point-blank in the head by Rezaq. (Baker, T-2-60-61, 85; Pflug, T-1-53; Pltf's Exh. 3.)

32. Baker's body was thrown down the stairway to the airplane. He landed approximately halfway down the stairs. (Baker, T-2-61.)

33. Baker heard two men coming down the stairs. They carried his limp body back up to the aircraft. (Baker, T-2-61.)

34. The hijackers then threw him out of the door of the aircraft a second time. This time, he landed on the tarmac. (Baker, T-2-61.)

35. Baker played dead on the tarmac until he was sure that the hijacker had gone back inside the plane. (Baker, T-2-61.)

36. Baker managed to escape by sneaking away on the tarmac and running underneath the hijacked airplane. (Baker, T-2-81.)

37. As Baker ran across the tarmac in the dark, he saw someone stand up in a grassy area to his left and point a rifle at him. (Baker, T-2-62.)

38. Baker turned around to show the person that he had his hands tied behind his back, in order to show that he was not a threat and to avoid being shot. (Baker, T-2-62, 82.)

39. The person pointing the rifle turned out to be a British soldier, who may have thought Baker was a terrorist running from the airplane. (Baker, T-2-82.)

40. Baker was taken by ambulance to a Maltese hospital. (Baker, T-2-63.)

41. Baker was hospitalized at St. Luke's Hospital G'Mangia, Malta, where he was treated for four (4) days for the gunshot wound to his head and other injuries which he suffered. (Pltf's Exh. 31B.)

42. At 4:30 am Malta time, eight and one-half hours after the EgyptAir flight 648 aircraft had departed Athens and eight hours into the hijacking, and after witnessing the execution-style shooting of three other passengers, a second American passenger, Rogenkamp, was brought to the front of the aircraft, where she was shot in the head and killed by Rezaq. (Pflug, T-1-54, 56-57; Pltf's Exh. 3.)

43. Rogenkamp's body was also thrown onto the tarmac after the shooting. (Pflug, T-1-57.)

44. Rogenkamp's body was taken to the Malta Hospital, where she was later identified by Baker, who was being treated there. (Baker, T-2-64.)

45. At 10:00 am Malta time, fourteen hours after the EgyptAir flight 648 aircraft had departed Athens and thirteen and one-half hours into the hijacking, and after witnessing the execution-style shooting of four other passengers, Pflug, the third American passenger onboard, was called forward and shot in the head by Rezaq. (Pflug, T-1-57-60; Pltf's Exh. 3.)

46. Like the other Israeli and American victims who were shot in the head, Pflug was thrown onto the tarmac. (Pflug, T-1-61.)

47. Pflug lay on the tarmac, pretending to be dead while going in and out of consciousness, for approximately five hours. (Pflug, T-1-62.)

48. Medics arrived at the EgyptAir aircraft, and, believing Pflug to be dead, recovered her body and placed her in an ambulance to take her to a morgue. (Pflug, T-1-66.)

49. After the medics realized that Pflug was alive, she was taken to St. Luke's Hospital in G'Mangia, Malta, where she was treated for her injuries. (Pflug, T-1-66-67.)

50. Pflug subsequently underwent brain surgery, and has endured a lifetime of recovery, pain, suffering, and physical and emotional trauma. (Pflug, T-1-53; Pltf's Exh. 4A.)

51. On the second day of the hijacking, at 8:15 pm Malta time, Egyptian commandos stormed the hijacked airplane in an attempt to rescue the remaining passengers and bring about the end of the hijacking. (Lang, T-2-170-71.)

52. As a result of this rescue attempt, the aircraft was almost completely destroyed, and approximately 60 passengers were killed. (Pltf's Exh. 3; Lang, T-2-170-172; Baker, T-2-86.)

B. The Abu Nidal Organization Perpetrated the EgyptAir Flight 648 Hijacking

53. Omar Ali Rezaq, the sole surviving hijacker, was injured in the rescue attempt by Egyptian commandos, and was subsequently treated at a Maltese hospital. (Pltf's Exh. 34 at 2567-2571.)

54. Rezaq was tried and convicted in Malta and served time in prison. (Pltf's Exh. 34 at 2792-2793.)

55. Subsequent to his release from the Malta prison, Rezaq was tried in Washington, DC, before Judge Royce C. Lamberth in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. (Ex 34.)

56. Rezaq's criminal trial was styled United States of America v. Omar Mohammed Ali Rezaq No. 93-CR-284. (Pltf's Exh. 34.)

57. During his criminal trial, Rezaq did not deny the fact that he got on EgyptAir Flight 648, that he went into the cockpit, that he intentionally forced the plane to divert Malta, and that he shot EgyptAir Flight 648 passengers on the ground in Malta. (Pltf's Exh. 34 at 2781.)

58. During his criminal trial, when asked if Rezaq remembers shooting people on EgyptAir Flight 648, Rezaq testified, "[its] [s]omething I cannot forget." (Pltf's Exh. 34 at 2782.)

59. Subsequently, in a signed affidavit, Omar Rezaq admitted that he was convicted of air piracy as the terrorist who hijacked EgyptAir Flight 648. (Pltf's Exh. 35.)

60. Rezaq admitted that the operation had been carried out by the ANO, of which he was a member. (Pltf's Exh. 35, Pltf's Exh. 34.)

61. Rezaq also admitted that he was trained in an ANO training camp in the Syrian-controlled Baaka Valley. (Pltf's Exh. 35, Pltf's Exh. 34.)

62. Rezaq also admitted that this terrorist hijacking took place at the instigation of and with the support of the governments of Syria and Libya. (Pltf's Exh. 34, Pltf's Exh. 35.)

63. Omar Rezaq is currently serving a life sentence at the Federal Maximum Security Prison, ADX, Federal Bureau of Prisons, in Florence, Colorado, having been convicted of air piracy as a result of his involvement as an ANO terrorist in the EgyptAir Flight 648 hijacking on November 23, 1985. (Pltf's Exh. 35.)

C. The Abu Nidal Organization is a Foreign Terrorist Organization

64. The ANO was established and led by Sabri al-Banna, a/k/a Abu Nidal. (Lang, T-2-141.)

65. Abu Nidal was originally a member and operative of Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization and a part of the Palestine Liberation Organization ("PLO"). (Deeb, T-2-203-204.)

66. In October 1974, when Abu Nidal was serving as Arafat's Fatah organization representative in Baghdad, Iraq, he broke away from the movement and formed his own, more radical organization, which he called the Fatah-Revolutionary Council, a.k.a. the Abu Nidal Organization. (Deeb, T-2-203.)

67. Abu Nidal broke away from Arafat in opposition to Arafat's support of the Middle East peace process. (Deeb, T-2-208-209.)

68. Abu Nidal was a violent individual, and the ANO was brutal; their documented methodology for the commission of terrorist attacks was bloodshed. (Long, Pltf's Exh. 52 at 2.)

69. During the relevant period surrounding the November 23, 1985 hijacking of EgyptAir Flight 648 and the December 27, 1985 attacks at both the Leonardo da Vinci Airport at Rome, Italy and the Schwechat Airport at Vienna, Austria ("Rome and Vienna Airport attacks"), the ANO became one of the most sophisticated terrorist groups of its day, with a global network of operations. (Long, Pltf's Exh. 52 at 2.)

70. One of the primary reasons that the ANO was so effective was the high level of internal security Abu Nidal achieved within his organization. (Long, Pltf's Exh. 52 at 2.)

71. Compartmentalization within the ANO was rigid, both horizontally and vertically; personnel were organized into small cell groups, with minimal interaction between members. (Pltf's Exh. 52 at 2.)

72. The ANO was run like a commercial enterprise, with different departments, including secret service, military, archives, and foreign relations. (Badra, Pltf's Exh. 34 at &10.)

73. ANO terrorists used assumed names, along with matching forged identification and travel documents; the names were changed constantly so that no one could be sure of the real names of ANO members. (Pltf's Exh. 52 at 2.)

74. The ANO would not have been able to operate or conduct the attacks without the support of foreign governments. (Lang, T-2-175.)

75. The ANO was known by the United States government in 1985 and 1986 to be a brutal, violent, and dangerous terrorist organization, and was subsequently designated as a Foreign Terrorist ...

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