Dawson's Field hijackings

From Academic Kids

Main article: Black September in Jordan

The Dawson's Field hijacking occurred on September 6, 1970. Four different jet aircraft bound from Europe to New York City, New York, United States were hijacked. Two of the jets landed at a remote desert airstrip in Jordan called Dawson's Field, the third, a 747, was thought to be too large to land there, and the fourth hijacking was foiled mid-air. The Palestinian guerrilla organization PFLP planned and executed this operation to gain publicity for the plight of Palestinians and to gain release of fellow guerrillas being held in Swiss jails.

The initial hijackings were on four different planes:

  • El Al Flight 219, a Boeing 707, originated in Tel Aviv, Israel and was headed to New York City. It had 148 passengers and 10 crew members aboard. It stopped in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and was hijacked shortly after it took off from there by Patrick Arguello, a Nicaraguan, and Leila Khaled, a Palestinian. El Al security officers shot and killed Arguello and captured Khaled. The plane landed safely at Heathrow Airport in London, where Khaled was turned over to authorities. The original plan was to have four hijackers aboard this flight, but two were unable to board in Amsterdam.
  • Pan American Flight 93, a Boeing 747, was carrying 152 passengers and 17 crew. The flight was from Brussels, Belgium to New York with a stop in Amsterdam. The two hijackers bumped from the El Al flight boarded, and hijacked, this flight. It first landed in Beirut where it refueled and picked up several associates of the hijackers. It then landed in Cairo. The first 747 had only started flying in January of that year. Many airports were not equipped to handle the jumbo jet. The plane was blown up at Cairo after everybody deplaned.
Missing image
Aircrafts are blown up by the guerrillas
  • TWA Flight 74, a Boeing 707. was an around-the-world flight carrying 141 passengers and a crew of 10. It was hijacked shortly after taking off from Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It landed at Dawson's Field in Jordan.

On the following day, a fifth plane, BOAC flight 775, a VC-10, was hijacked and brought to Dawson's Field. This was unplanned by PFLP, but the work of a sympathizer who wanted leverage with the British to free Leila Khaled.

On September 12, after taking the passengers off, the guerrillas blew up the three planes (TWA, Swissair, BOAC) in the Jordan desert. This was seen by newscrews and broadcast to international television.

Eventually, a deal was brokered that led to the release of all hostages in exchange for Leila Khaled and three PFLP guerrillas held in a Swiss jail.

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