More than Meets the Eye: The Seizure of the Achille Lauro

by Bruce Hoffman

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This paper originally appeared as an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner on Sunday, October 13, 1985. In it, the author draws parallels between two recent terrorist incidents, the hijacking of a TWA airliner in June of 1985, and the seizure of the luxury liner Achille Lauro in October: in both cases, innocent lives were threatened ostensibly to force other governments to put pressure on Israel. The author suggests that in both cases, the real motivation was to gain an advantage over rival Mideast terrorist groups. The terrorists who hijacked the luxury liner, in attempting to gain recognition by undermining Yasser Arafat's leadership and progress toward a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian question, may have produced the opposite effect, however. The author concludes that competition among terrorist groups will continue to motivate acts of terrorism, even if the hijackers of the Achille Lauro are brought to trial.

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