The Skyjacker's Tale | Chicago Reader
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The Skyjacker's Tale

The Skyjacker's Tale

Canadian filmmaker Jamie Kastner gets the scoop on Ishmael Muslim Ali, still notorious in the Virgin Islands for his role in a 1972 armed attack on a Rockefeller-owned golf course in Saint Croix that left eight people dead. Then known as Ishmael LaBeet, he was given eight consecutive life sentences, but on New Year's Eve 1984, under the escort of two air marshals, he hijacked an American Airlines flight from Saint Croix to New York and diverted it to Cuba, where he lives to this day. Scoring the first interview with Ali since the hijacking, Kastner finds him relaxed and charismatic, labeling himself "a revolutionary" and insisting his confession to the massacre was tortured out of him. Back in Saint Croix, the filmmaker breaks even more ground when he pries from Legrand Lee, one of the Saint Croix policemen who captured LaBeet back in the 70s, on-camera confirmation that the suspect's interrogation included a cattle prod and a plastic bag over his head. History provides the final twist: now that the U.S. is normalizing relations with Cuba, Ali may yet face extradition to serve out a U.S. conviction for the skyjacking.


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