International Terrorism

December 2, 1977

Report Outline
Political Violence in the 1970s
Origins and Uses of Terrorism
National and Global Responses
Special Focus

Political Violence in the 1970s

Concern Over Rising Terrorist Activity

Among the 86 hostages freed in a West German commando raid on a hijacked Lufthansa airliner in Somalia last October were a woman and her five-year-old son from Santee, Calif. A number of Americans were aboard a Japan Air Lines jet hijacked to Bangladesh earlier that month. On Sept. 10, 1976, a New York-to-Chicago jet was commandeered by five Croatian nationalists. Although none of the 81 passengers was injured, a New York City police officer was killed by a bomb left by the hijackers in Grand Central Station. On Sept. 21, 1976, Ronni Karpen Moffit, a 25-year-old fund-raiser for the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., was killed along with co-worker Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean ambassador to the United States, when a bomb exploded under their car. A month earlier, three American employees of Rockwell International Corp. were assassinated while being driven to work at an Iranian air force base in Tehran.

These Americans were recent victims of a spreading wave of international terrorism. In the past most terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens were directed at diplomats or other government officials. American business executives stationed overseas also were frequent targets, especially in Latin America. But as recent terrorist incidents indicate, political extremists at home and abroad are no longer restricting their attacks to the wealthy or influential. Today's terrorists have, Michael Waltzer wrote in 1975, “emptied out the category of innocent people.”

Between 1968 and the end of 1976, there were 1,152 international terrorist incidents, according to a recent CIA report. These included 137 kidnapings, 35 “barricade and hostage situations,” 501 bombings, 119 armed assaults or ambushes, 63 assassinations and 146 hijackings. U.S. citizens or property were victimized in 391 of these incidents. Last year alone there were 61 terrorist attacks on Americans or American property.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 14, 2021  Domestic Terrorism
Apr. 09, 2021  Targeted Killings
Apr. 01, 2016  Defeating the Islamic State
Jan. 29, 2016  Unrest in Turkey
Jun. 27, 2014  Assessing the Threat From al Qaeda
Sep. 02, 2011  Remembering 9/11
Sep. 03, 2010  Homegrown Jihadists
Mar. 12, 2010  Prosecuting Terrorists Updated
Nov. 2009  Terrorism and the Internet
Feb. 13, 2009  Homeland Security
Apr. 21, 2006  Port Security
Oct. 14, 2005  Global Jihad
Apr. 02, 2004  Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism
Feb. 22, 2002  Policing the Borders
Oct. 12, 2001  War on Terrorism
Jul. 21, 1995  Combating Terrorism
Aug. 26, 1988  New Approach to Mideast Terrorism
May 30, 1986  Dealing With Terrorism
Oct. 08, 1982  Prospects for Peace in Northern Ireland
Mar. 27, 1981  Anti-Terrorism: New Priority in Foreign Policy
Dec. 02, 1977  International Terrorism
Jan. 26, 1973  Control of Skyjacking
May 13, 1970  Political Terrorism
Jul. 24, 1952  Red Terrorism in Malaya
Terrorism and Counterterrorism