“I think that he’s evil.”
“I hope he’s rotting in hell.”
“He is a terrorist.”
“He is a coward and a cheat… and not worthy of being numbered amongst men.”
The harsh words that open The Skyjacker’s Tale are directed toward the titular “sky jacker,” Ishmael Muslim Ali — although the speakers make sure to use his former name, Ronald LaBeet, the name under which he was convicted in 1973 for the murder of eight people at the Fountain Valley Golf Course in St. Croix, Virgin Island a year before. The perpetrators of the “Fountain Valley massacre” were allegedly five Virgin Islanders — including and led by Ali — believed to have shot the victims execution-style in the course of a robbery gone bad.
All five men, who had styled themselves black nationalists resembling groups like The Black Panthers, and who had previously committed several robberies to fund their revolutionary goals, were convicted of multiple charges of murder, assault, and robbery, and were sentenced to eight consecutive life sentences each in federal prison. The vitriol above is especially acidic, considering the subjects being interviewed fully believe that Ali later avoided justice when he hijacked a flight from the Virgin Islands, where he’d just lost an appeal, and redirected the flight from New York, where he would have been incarcerated, to Cuba, where he now lives as a free man. His current life, there, is the center of Canadian filmmaker Jamie Kastner’s documentary, The Skyjacker’s Tale.