Anti-hijacking Bills Introduced

Citing the urgent need to combat international air terrorism at every level, Rep. Bella S. Abzug (D-L NY) introduced legislation in the House this week aimed at drastically increasing the penalties on nations which aid and abet hijackers. The legislation would tighten the regulations of the 1974 Anti-Hijacking Act, and for the first time mandate suspension of U.S. foreign aid to nations cooperating with air terrorists.

“We must take definitive and effective action to prevent any further episodes of hijacking such as we witnessed during the Entebbe incident,” Rep. Abzug said. “Only through strict measures will this be accomplished.” One bill introduced by the Congresswoman would require the President to half U.S. foreign assistance to any nation with which it has suspended air traffic operations because of the terrorism issue.

A companion bill requires the President to suspend U.S. air operations for at least one year to or from any country which in any way assists any terrorist organization that illegally seizes an aircraft; requires the President to suspend air operations to any country which maintains its own air operations with a country assisting such a terrorist group; and imposes a $10,000 fine, or up to two years in prison to air carriers failing to suspend operations in such instances.

“The 1974 anti-hijacking law needs strengthening,” Rep. Abzug emphasized. “It gave the President the power to impose sanctions against those cooperating with hijackers, but failed to mandate the penalties. We must adopt a policy that penalizes those nations who choose to assist air hijackers.”

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