RealNews

History of Airliner Hijackings

Hijackings of passenger aircraft have come to the fore in recent decades with the growth of air travel. Hijackers normally take over aircraft with the intention of using their passengers as bargaining chips to advance their interests. Unlike September’s terror attacks on the United States, when airliners were taken over for use as guided missiles against prestige buildings, plane hijack situations normally follow a pattern. At some point, negotiations between the hijackers and the authorities can be expected to begin, followed by a settlement – under which the hijackers’ demands may or may not be met – or the storming of the aircraft by special forces. Hijackers are sometimes members of organisations that are waging guerilla campaigns against particular countries or governments, and are seeking to gain publicity for their cause. Often, their demands involve the release of fellow members of their organisation who have been imprisoned. But other, less organised groups have also taken over aircraft – sometimes in a desperate attempt to escape the authoritarian regimes of their homelands. The longest hijacking incident happened in 1968, when passengers from an El Al plane were held for 40 days after Palestinian militants forced a flight from Rome to divert to Algiers. The Algerian authorities held 22 hostages, releasing the final 12 only after a boycott by international pilots. Full Story

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