The Terrorist Threat to Commercial Aviation

by Brian Michael Jenkins

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Abstract

This paper, originally presented at the International Seminar on Aviation Security, Herzeliyya, Israel, February 5-9, 1989, reviews the statistics on terrorist attacks — hijackings and sabotage — on commercial airliners since the first such hijacking involving an El Al plane in 1968. The author also considers the physical security measures undertaken by airlines and airports, and suggests that besides improving screening methods in boarding areas, we must improve control of "back door" access to planes and cargo. Finally, while threats against airlines will remain a major problem, the author recommends that they not be publicized. Instead, he suggests, greater effort must be devoted to determining which threats are credible.

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