Greek authorities confirmed Monday they are holding an Arab who was convicted in absentia and sentenced to life in prison for helping plan the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship.

Abdulrahim Khaled was arrested March 5 along with three Greeks during a police search that turned up dynamite and a gasoline bomb, a senior police official said. The search was carried out at the home of Petros Floros, a Greek acquitted of assisting in the hijacking of the luxury liner."He was arrested for something else a while ago and then we found out who he was," the police official said of Khaled. He spoke on condition of anonymity.

Officials said Khaled - reportedly once a colonel in terrorist mastermind Abul Abbas' Palestine Liberation Front - was carrying three forged passports, from the Philippines, Iraq and Greece. Khaled, 56, is a Yemeni.

Italy has requested Khaled's extradition, police sources said.

The Greek Public Order Ministry said Khaled and the three Greeks were charged with possessing weapons and explosives. Khaled also was charged with holding forged passports.

A security police spokesman, who also requested anonymity, confirmed that Floros, 55, was accused by Italian prosecutors of giving Khaled his passport so he could board the Achille Lauro. Floros was acquitted of complicity by the Italian court in 1986.

Leon Klinghoffer, an elderly, wheelchair-bound American, was shot to death and his body thrown overboard during the hijacking of the Achille Lauro.

Khaled initially was tried in absentia, convicted of using a false passport, and sentenced to serve 71/2 years. On appeal, an Italian court increased the sentence to life in prison. Prosecutors said he used Floros' passport to board the cruise ship before the hijacking.