NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
12th September, 1970 : Urgent efforts are being made to secure the release of 56 hostages, after their Palestinian captors blew up three hijacked airliners in the baking heat of Dawson’s Field in the Jordanian desert today. Nine explosions shattered the British, Swiss and American aircraft as they sat in the so-called “Liberation Airport”, in reality a disused RAF wartime airstrip. Their fiery end came as the climax to a story which started with the mass hijacking of three aircraft six days ago. The hijackers seized a TWA Boeing 707, a Pan-Am Boeing Jumbo and Swissair DC8 over northern Europe. They flew the Jumbo to Cairo and blew it up after releasing the passengers and crew. Another attempted hijack on the same day failed when the crew of an El Al Boeing 707 overpowered two would-be hijackers, killing one. El Al pilot landed his plane at Heathrow to seek help for a wounded steward and , after some argument, handed over the captured hijacker, Leila Khaled, to the British police. Her arrest prompted the hijack of a BOAC VC10 and it was that aircraft which exploded with the Swiss and American aircraft at Dawson Field today. The captors, believed to belong to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine are demanding the release of Leila Khaled in exchange for their British hostages.
[British Government released Khaled on 30th September]