Statement on the Hijacking of Pan American Airways Flight 73

 

September 5, 1986

 

The hijacking of Pan American Airways flight 73 at Pakistan's Karachi International Airport was a cruel and sinister terrorist act. Our hearts are filled with sympathy for the families of those innocents killed and injured. The Government of Pakistan acted boldly and decisively to bring this nightmare to an end, and we applaud Pakistan's exemplary resolve in the handling of this incident. Pan American Airways should also be commended for their cool and professional competence in helping to ensure that this incident could be concluded where it started.

 

The terrorists conducted a despicable and cowardly crime by threatening, assaulting, and murdering innocent passengers of a crowded airliner -- men and women, young and old -- with machine guns and hand grenades. Nothing can justify such barbarism. We can think of no punishment too severe for the criminals responsible. We are confident that those who perpetrated this brutal act will be brought to justice. I thank God that this incident is now ended, with the safe deliverance of most of those who had to endure the ordeal inflicted on them -- and on all of civilized society. We express our condolences to the families of those killed and pray for the speedy recovery of those injured. We look forward to the safe and speedy reunion of the passengers with their families and loved ones.

 

Note: Larry M. Speakes, Principal Deputy Press Secretary to the President, read the statement to reporters at 2:50 p.m. in the Vista Mar Monte Room at the Sheraton Hotel in Santa Barbara, CA.