Image: George Habash
Louai Beshara  /  AFP - Getty Images file
George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is seen in Damascus in a 1998 file photo. Habash died on Saturday in Amman, Jordan.
updated 1/26/2008 5:39:27 PM ET 2008-01-26T22:39:27

The founder of a radical PLO faction has died of a heart attack in Jordan.

George Habash was 81.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine gained notoriety after the simultaneous hijackings of four Western airliners in 1970 and the seizure of an Air France flight to Entebbe, Uganda.

Habash promoted the Palestinian cause through terrorist attacks in the 1970s. The PFLP also was responsible for gunning down 27 people at Israel's Lod airport in May 1972.

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 Yasser Arafat and current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas is calling Habash a "historic leader." He's declared a three-day mourning period and ordered flags to fly at half-staff.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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