The Skyjacker's Tale (NR)

Documentary 75 min. June 30, 2017
By Craig D. Lindsey
Ali (formerly Ronald LaBeet), who spent 12 years in hellish U.S. federal prisons after being convicted of murder, pulled off the impossible on New Year's Eve 1984. While being transported back to the United States from the Virgin Islands, where he had failed to win an appeal, he sneaked a gun onto a plane and hijacked it, taking everyone on the plane hostage, including the officers charged with guarding him, and ordering the pilot to fly him to Cuba. The people on the plane took him seriously because he referred to himself as "the Fountain Valley Killer."

In the documentary The Skyjacker's Tale, Ali says he did this for effect, and he maintains his innocence in the case in question. In 1972, Ali and four associates were tried and convicted for the shooting deaths of eight people at the Fountain Valley Golf Course, a bit of land in St. Croix that was owned by the Rockefeller family. Ali, then a radical, cops to sticking up tourists to fund his liberation movement. But after serving in the Army -- and following orders to kill innocents during the Vietnam War, he says -- Ali was done with murdering.

Ali and the others reported that the cops were torturing the hell out of them in order to get confessions. (One officer who worked the case chillingly comes clean in the movie.) Tale doesn't try to solve the murders, but it does make a compelling case that Ali couldn't have done it; in the meantime, it focuses on the elder, amusingly foul-mouthed Ali, now living free with family in Cuba.
Jamie Kastner Ishmael Muslim Ali, Isabella Carr, Bradley Gordon, Margaret Ratner Kunstler, Michael Ratner Strand Releasing

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