Have hijackers/terrorists ever been successful?

I don’t mean successful in the sense of “we killed 10 people, yeah!” but in the sense of accomplishing their end result through terrorist acts.

The first thing that comes to mind is the terrorist attack in Beirut in 1983 that killed 260 American and 60 French military personnel. The terrorists wanted us out of the country, and we did get out a few months after the attack. Not knowing the minds of the terrorists, I can’t say if that was their ultimate goal.

I do believe that they have been paid off by the French in the past.
This fits in with the French pragmatic view of things, after their defeat at Dien Ben Phu a ransom was demanded in return for captured POWs.
They eventually did pay up after much soul searching and sure enough hostages were returned.

I also think they changed their policy once it became clear that this encouraged more terrorist acts on French soil.

Yes, because not all hijackings are for grand political causes. Compare the recent bus hijackings in Russia that protest the occupation of Chechyna to a hijacking of an airliner for money. Cecil briefly mentioned such a hijacking in his column on opening airline doors in midair:

I’d consider that a successful hijacking. The fact that he was never found seems to point towards success rather than failure, IMHO.

Regarding the question of whether national policy can be affected by determined terrorist acts, then I’d say yes, definitely yes. If Nation X hasn’t changed their policy due to terrorist acts, then my pessimistic viewpoint is that they haven’t reached their breaking point yet.

The hostages taken in the famous Iran crisis during Carter’s presidency were released some months later, allegedly after the U.S. had paid a ransom (or made other concessions to Tehran). The U.S. never admitted to have done so, but they almost certainly did.

It was just a year and a half ago that an Indian Airlines flight from New Delhi to Kathmandu (but with a large number of Westerners on board) was hijacked to Afghanistan, where it sat on the runway for a runway for a full week before the hijackers’ demands for the freeing of several imprisoned Kashmiri militants was met. The hijackers also demanded (and were given) getaway vehicles, and IIRC nobody’s accounted for them since shortly after they left the airport in Kandahar.

So I’d call that a successful political hijacking. But then, it’s probably easier to pull something like that off in Afghanistan than, say, Los Angeles.

I’ve never heard that before. Do you have any kind of citation?

I found this on the web; maybe not a very official source, but I’ll research on it more thoroughly if necessary:

The Columbia Enyclopedia (never heard of it before, but it sounds great :wink: ) states the amount of the Iranian deposits unfrozen at 8 billion dollars.
Obviously the American concessions were not hidden, but given very publicly; probably Carter agreed because he needed some sort of successs after the incredible failure of this helicopter operation that gave lots of inspiration for the Hot Shots movies.

Schnitte - I can’t speak for all here, but when I see some one use a ‘quote’ from a web source but fail to give me the direct source, I take it with a grain of salt the size of Detroit. Not to suggest that you’re doing anything untoward, of course.

It’s just that I’d just as soon be able to view the entire document and the source to see how I personally would weigh it (a classic example of this was in another thread where some one-who shall remain nameless- ‘quoted’ some data, said it was fbi data, but neglected to name the source of the quote - it turned out to be a notorious white supremecy site).

There were terrorists who took a bunch of hostages during the Olympics in Germany. (I forgot which year.) There was a fantastic documentary about the heinously incompotent handling of the situation by the German authorities. Some of the terrorists were caught, and later a seperate incident occured where a plane (suspiciously absent of women and children) was hijacked and the caught terrorist’s release demanded. Germany released the guy. It was revealed later (though it was somewhat obvious at the time) that Germany staged the whole airplane incident as part of a deal with the terrorists to keep them out of Germany in exchange for their buddy.

Who likes cheese?!


Assuming there was only one Olympics in Germany in which hostages were taken, that would be the '72 olympics in Munich. Here’s an article about it:

Terrorists turn '72 Munich Olympics into bloodbath

Thanks frogstein. Here is the link to the documentary, by the way. (It’s an excellent film. Highly reccomended.)

One Day in September.

Regarding the Munich terrorists, there is a book about the results of their actions. I believe the title is “Vengence”. To make a long story short, according to the book, Israeli intelligence hunted down and killed all of the terrorists that escaped Munich. It took a number of years to get the last one. An excellent response IMHO.

*Originally posted by beatle *

I think he is referring to the infamous “Iran-Contra Scandal”. Do a google search on that and you’ll find several hits. Here are some links for citation:

Digital National Security Archive

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.


Actually I think that beatle is referring to the October Suprise (for more information go to Google and type in October Suprise Reagan) it is an allegation that Reagan and Bush cut a secret deal with the Iranian terrorists to hold onto the hostages until after the election so that Carter couldn’t get any advantage from their release. Unsuprisingly the hostages were released on January 20, 1981 just as Reagan was being sworn in.

D.B. Cooper is considered to be the only successful terrorist/hijacker in the U.S. Although that would have to be tempered by the fact that no one knows what exactly happened after he jumped from the plane. He did get what he wanted, in the form of $$ and a number of parachutes.

Yes, you are quite right. After doing a bit of reading on the Iran-Contra scandal, I had forgotten about the “October Surprise”.

I think one thing you have to take into account about the original OP, is that most terrorist/revolutionary organizations do not see hijacking or a terrorist act as an act that will lead them straight to a “final” victory, but as small “victories” in getting a larger goal. As such, there have been example of terrorist acts that back fire, but there are also a good number of terrorists that accomplish their goals. It is because of that fact that terrorist groups continue with hijckaging or similar.