863.0 Achille Lauro Hijacking (A)
When the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked in October of 1985, the repercussions were wide-but reactions of individual governments varied. The hijacking, in which an American vacationer was murdered, an Italian crew held hostage and whose perpetrators found their way on to an Egyptian airliner, at first divided the US intelligence community and later divided the Italian and US governments. This case examines both the intelligence and legal ramifications of the Achille Lauro incident. Part A (863.0) recounts events from the point of the hijacking until the US decision to intercept an Egyptian plane on which the hijackers and an alleged co-conspirator were apparently being flown to safety, as part of a deal for the release of the passengers. In so doing, the case examines the various response options weighed by the US-including that of a military rescue-and the intelligence assessments which underlay them. Part B (864.0) tells the story of the legal complications which resulted from the successful interception of the Egyptian plane, thus raising questions as to the applicability of legal frameworks to national and international responses to terrorism. The case examines the relevant differences between the Italian and US judicial systems and the confluence between legal imperatives and political constraints in cases of terrorist incidents.