NEW YORK – The daughters of a wheelchair-bound American man who was shot and thrown overboard by the terrorists who hijacked a cruise ship in 1985 would like to come face-to-face with the mastermind of the terror attack.
Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer, whose father, Leon Klinghoffer, was killed during the infamous hijacking of the Achille Lauro, told Fox News Wednesday they are thrilled Abu Abbas is in U.S. custody.
"I have nothing to say to [Abbas]," Lisa Klinghoffer told Fox News on Wednesday. But she said there is one thing she would relish doing in honor of her late mother, Marilyn, who died of cancer only a few months after their father's murder.
"When our mother identified the four terrorists who actually did the murder, she didn't talk to them," Lisa Klinghoffer said. "She spat in their face. I would like to have that opportunity."
Ilsa Klinghoffer concurred: "Absolutely, I would love to do that on behalf of my mother."
U.S. Central Command confirmed Tuesday night that Abbas, who led a faction of the Palestinian Liberation Front, was captured by American special forces Monday in Baghdad, where he had been hiding for several years. Officials said he had failed in an attempt to escape to Syria when American troops invaded Iraq.
The Klinghoffer sisters said they want Abbas' capture to have a broader message about putting a stop to terrorism worldwide.
"We are happy about the fact that he is captured. A murderous terrorist -- finally we have him in our hands," Ilsa Klinghoffer said.
Earlier, in a statement provided by family friend and spokeswoman Letty Simon, the Klinghoffers said they are delighted that Abbas is in U.S. custody.
"This is an opportunity to send an incredible message to the world that the world is not going to forget what happened here," Ilsa told Fox News.
"We want to send this broader message: it is not just about Leon Klinghoffer, but it is about terrorism and safety and going forward and capturing these people who are just scaring everyone around the world."
Leon Klinghoffer, 69, was a passenger on the Achille Lauro, which was traveling from Egypt to Israel when it was hijacked by a group of Abbas' followers.
Klinghoffer was shot and killed in the wheelchair he used and was tossed off the ship. He was traveling with his wife, Marilyn, and nine friends, and they were celebrating the couple's 36th wedding anniversary.
The hijacking ended after Egypt negotiated with the hijackers. Klinghoffer's wife died of cancer four months later.
Lisa said her mother's colon cancer was in remission but when she returned home after the tragic ordeal "she took a turn for the worse," and added that she thinks her father's murder "had something to do with it."
Abbas, who has eluded authorities since 1985, was sentenced in absentia to life in prison in Italy for masterminding the hijacking.
"We'd almost given up hope really that it would ever happen because he has evaded and eluded and hasn't even really hid, he's flaunted it in our face in fact …'come and get me.' Nobody has tried to get him," said Lisa.
Ten years later, Abbas apologized for Klinghoffer's death, saying, "The killing of the passenger was a mistake. ... We are sorry."
Klinghoffer, who owned some wholesale appliance stores, lived in New York City and maintained a home in Long Branch, N.J.
His daughters, who live in New York City, said they hoped U.S. prosecutors "revive a federal indictment against Abbas for piracy, hostage-taking and conspiracy."
American officials have not said where Abbas will be detained or whether he could face charges in the United States.
"Bringing Abbas to justice will send a strong signal to terrorists anywhere in the world that there is no place to run, no place to hide," the daughters said in their statement.
"I think about it every day," Lisa told Fox News about her father's murderer. "It has been 18 years of thinking about this man, how he was responsible for taking our father away from us."
The Associated Press contributed to this report