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Amman, Jordan

George Habash Palestinian leader

George Habash, whose radical PLO faction gained notoriety after the simultaneous hijackings of four Western airliners in 1970, died Saturday. He was 81.

The former guerrilla leader, whose rivalry with Yasser Arafat spurred him to start the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, died of a heart attack in Amman.

Born to a Christian Arab family, Habash opposed Arab-Israeli peace talks. His group was the second-largest in the PLO after Fatah, the faction of Arafat and current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Habash and his group gained notoriety for the 1970 hijackings of four Western airliners over the United States, Europe, the Far East and the Persian Gulf. The aircraft were blown up in the Middle East after passengers and crews disembarked.

Habash promoted the Palestinian cause through terrorist attacks in the 1970s, including the hijacking of an Air France airliner to Entebbe, Uganda, where four civilians were killed during a rescue operation by Israeli paratroopers.

Los Angeles

Christian Brando, actor’s son

Christian Brando, the troubled son of actor Marlon Brando, who made headlines in 1990 when he was arrested in the shooting death of his half-sister’s boyfriend, died early Saturday. He was 49.

Brando died from complications of pneumonia at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The legal proceedings against Brando for the killing of Dag Drollet caused a firestorm of media attention. His legendary father used his estate to post the $2 million bond for his son and later offered rambling and emotional testimony pleading for leniency for the oldest of his nine children.

Christian Brando, then 32, eventually pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of the 26-year-old Drollet, the lover of Cheyenne Brando, who was then pregnant by him. Brando was given a 10-year prison sentence but served less than five years at the California Men’s Colony at San Luis Obispo.

Christian Brando’s mother was Marlon Brando’s first wife, the Calcutta, India-born actress Anna Kashfi.


Richard Darman, GOP technocrat

Richard Darman, 64, a shrewd tactician, a tough and savvy infighter, and a Republican technocrat who mastered the complex political machinery of government while serving four presidents, died Friday of leukemia at Georgetown University Hospital.

As budget director during the first Bush administration, Darman was a principal figure in persuading the president to renounce his no-new-taxes pledge. Many Republicans never forgave him.

In a statement released by his office, former Secretary of State James Baker described Darman as “a brilliant, dedicated and distinguished public servant, educator and businessman who could direct traffic through the intersection of policy and politics as well as anybody I have ever known.”

At the time of his death, Darman was senior adviser of the Carlyle Group, the large Washington-based private-equity investment firm.


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