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Leila Khaled: Freedom Fighter or Terrorist? Essay (Critical Writing)


It is usually easy to regard any forceful and violent behaviour as an act of terrorism rather than a cause of justice, this is normally true when extreme actions are used to voice plights of a community. A case of a Palestinian woman named Leila Khaled is analysed.

This essay elaborates her intentions with the support of academic sources and her movie in order to demonstrate her cause of action as a freedom fighter for her country and not a terrorist as perceived. Khaled extreme actions were inspired by suffering Palestinians in their tents. This essay therefore analyses Khaled cause as a freedom fighter and not a terrorist.

Leila Khaled a freedom fighter

Leila Khaled has strong basis to support her claims as a freedom fighter rather than a terrorist despite her extreme actions. In 1969, Khaled and another male companion decided to hijack a TWA plane from Los Angeles in route via Tel Aviv.

Their intention was not to harm the passengers but rather voice their grievances. According to Eager (2008, p.186) Khaled clearly states that her intentions of hijacking planes was driven by her urge to attract international attention which had not been addressed as thousands of Palestinians languished in tents.

From her intentions, it would be wrong to dismiss her actions as a mere act of terrorist. It should however be considered cause to liberate Palestinians. If indeed her intent was to inflict pain on innocent people, she could have blown up the plane with the passengers onboard as terrorists did in the U.S. during the September 11 incident.

As Khaled sat while hijacking the TWA plane she saw young children sited in the palms of their parents. She was concerned about the consequences that her actions could cause in case the plan backfired and the plane exploded as a result of the explosives that her male companion had. While she was still meditating on her thought, she recalled what thousands of other Palestinians children underwent while in camps. She was then convinced to let the world acknowledge their grievances through any means that she could master.

In the end, Khaled succeeded by landing the plane and allowing the passengers to leave before blowing up the plane. This incident attracted the attention of the international community and thus making her a strong female figure among the Palestinians and other women worldwide. She consequently became a sex icon not only for her cause but for other revolutionaries that were making their concerns known worldwide.

In her video, she struggles to put forward the message of her revolutionary intentions rather than terrorism by clearly distancing herself from terrorism. As noted by Buxton and Provenzo (2010, p. 66) Leila Khaled was the first female activist who used extreme tactics to get the world’s attention on the plight of the Palestinians. Despite her actions and other several attempts to hijack planes that eventually led to her arrest and later released as a result of hostage exchange, Khaled altered the world’s image women.

Although her actions tainted her image and Palestinians image during that period, her actions had indeed spoken to the world about the plight of Palestinians during their conflict with the Jews in early 1960’s. Based on these fundamental facts, the actions of Khaled have not in any way created a bad image to the Palestinians but rather ensured that their cries were heard by the international community (Martin, 2009, p. 70).

As stated by Eager (2008, p.186) Khaled also explains her intentions in her book titled My People Shall Live. This book seeks to clear the air on her intentions in the cause of her revolution. On the contrary Martin, (2009, p. 70) believes that Leila Khaled is a violent extremist as a result of her actions; she is considered a political activist with extreme and terrorist behaviors.

More so, she seems to have created a foundation for other freedom figher who have committed terrorist acts by blowing themselves in order to die with passengers. Khaled has however genuinely distanced herself from such individuals and such actions. It can thus be genuinely considered that her cause was the motivation behind her extreme actions and not terrorism intentions.


As evident from the above analysis, it is clear that Khaled is not a terrorist but rather a freedom fighter despite using extreme tactics to get the attention of the international community. Her actions were a result of the international community failing to hear Palestinians cries from their tents.

More so, the Palestinians image has not been damaged as a result of Khaled actions, her actions achieved her goal of getting the world’s attention to the plights of many Palestinians. Without her extreme actions, the world could not have recognised the sufferings of Palestinians.


Buxton, C. A., & Provenzo, E. F. (2010). Teaching Science in Elementary and Middle School: A Cognitive and Cultural Approach. Washington, DC: SAGE. PP. 66-70.

Eager, P.W. (2008). From freedom fighters to terrorists: Women and political violence. New York, NY: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. PP. 186-190.

Martin, G. (2009). Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE. PP. 70-75.

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B., A. (2019, December 3). Leila Khaled: Freedom Fighter or Terrorist? [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Work Cited

B., Ayleen. "Leila Khaled: Freedom Fighter or Terrorist?" IvyPanda, 3 Dec. 2019,

1. Ayleen B. "Leila Khaled: Freedom Fighter or Terrorist?" IvyPanda (blog), December 3, 2019.


B., Ayleen. "Leila Khaled: Freedom Fighter or Terrorist?" IvyPanda (blog), December 3, 2019.


B., Ayleen. 2019. "Leila Khaled: Freedom Fighter or Terrorist?" IvyPanda (blog), December 3, 2019.


B., A. (2019) 'Leila Khaled: Freedom Fighter or Terrorist?'. IvyPanda, 3 December.

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