Embassies Under Siege : A Review of 48 Embassy Takeovers, 1971-1980

by Brian Michael Jenkins

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Abstract

A review of the 48 assaults made on embassies by terrorists and other militants between 1971 and 1980. The report discusses the origins of the embassy seizures as a terrorist tactic, the kinds of terrorists who assault embassies, the geographical and temporal distribution of assaults, the demands made by hostage-takers, and the degree of success they achieve. An annotated chronology of embassy seizures is appended. Except for the publicity they produce, embassy assaults appear to be a losing proposition for terrorists. Security has been increased at the embassies of the countries most frequently targeted for terrorist attacks, and this appears to have deterred takeovers of these embassies. However, terrorists have turned to less-well-guarded diplomatic posts in several instances, and more takeover attempts are likely to occur. Governments will probably remain resistant to terrorist demands, leading to longer sieges, more of which may be ended by force.

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