Air piracy -- the official way to describe hi-jacking of aircraft -- is becoming more spectacular...
Air piracy -- the official way to describe hi-jacking of aircraft -- is becoming more spectacular...more violent.
The hi-hacking on Friday (20 July) of a Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet with 145 people aboard has already cost the life of one of the hi-hackers, and it's also wounded one crew member.
The big jet -- Flight JL-404 -- was on its way from Paris to Tokyo via Amsterdam and Anchorage. It was carrying 123 passengers -- nine of them non-Japanese -- and 22 crew. It was forced to land at Dubai in the Arabian Gulf area after a dramatic flight from Europe over at least a dozen nations with frequent Change of course.
By midday on Saturday (21 July), the passengers were still sitting, sweating it out in the uncomfortably hot aircraft, waiting for the next moves of the hi-jackers.
Before this latest event, the attitude in the air transport industry was that, having been for some time a prime target for terrorist activity of all kinds, including sabotage and hi-jackings it was now even more likely to be threatened.
Hi-jackings haven't become everyday crimes, but they have taken on a more violent, long-range pattern.
The biggest single hi-jack disaster was in September 1970 at Dawson's Field in Jordan when several aircraft were destroyed by Arab guerrillas. In May 1972, another massive hi-jack caught the headlines of the world's news when Israeli soldiers masquerading as aircraft mechanics, stormed a Belgian airliner, and took control of it between Brussels and Tel Aviv. During the 24-hour drama, two hi-jackers were killed and a third injured in a gunfight aboard the jet.
In October 1972, one of the most daring and subsequently successful Arab commando operations to date took place when a Lufthansa jet was commandeered by three members of the Black September guerrilla movement. The aircraft, carrying 18 passengers, flew from Beirut to Nicosia to Yugoslavia to Tripoli. In September 1972, another hi-jacking involving a domestic Swedish aircraft with 80 passengers was seized by nine Croatian extremists and flown from sweden to Spain.
The world's longest hi-jacking in March 1970 had connections with the latest Japan Airlines aircraft incident. The United Red Army, a fanatical Japanese radical group, was involved in the three-day hi-jack of a Japanese Airlines Boeing 727 at Seoul airport when 100 passengers were held at sword-point before they were released by the hi-jackers, who were given sanctuary in North Korea.
Between 1933 and 1968, there were about 100 hi-jack attempts. In 1969, there were 86 attempts. 73 succeeded. In 1970, of 80 attempts, 53 succeeded. In 1971, 61 attempts and 26 successes. In 1972, there were 59 attempts and 24 successes. It's been estimated that over the past three years, nearly 20,000 people -- passengers and crew -- have been involved in some way in these attacks on civil aircraft.