Should U.S. Have Intercepted Terrorists?

On October 10, 1985, United States military aircraft intercepted an Egyptian airliner over the Mediterranean Sea and forced it to land at a NATO base in Sicily. Among those on board were four Palestinians who had recently surrendered after hijacking the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and holding more than 400 persons hostage for three days. The United States stated that it acted to prevent the hijackers from "fl[ying] ...to their freedom."' This incident brings into dramatic relief the
norms governing the actions that a state may permissibly take under international law to apprehend suspected criminals who are not physically within its jurisdiction. More directly, it forces a reexamination of the previously established norm against the interception of civilian aircraft by military forces.
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