Terrorism - Analysis of Pan Am 103 and the Tokyo Subway

1780 Words4 Pages

Lessons from Pan Am 103 and the Tokyo Subway

ABSTRACT: Terrorists were very active long before September 11. This essay reviews the 1988 downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland and the March 1995 gas attack in the Tokyo subway. The results of these terrorist acts, who carried them out, how they were carried out, and what can be done in the future to prevent such incidents from happening again are all investigated.

On December 21, 1988 the world was shocked as a Boeing 747 Pan American Airlines flight from London's Heathrow Airport to New York City crashed in a fiery ball due to a terrorist-placed bomb in the forward luggage compartment. After the explosion the plane proceeded to break up into three different parts. The wings broke off separately, as did the main fuselage, and the first-class/cockpit area. All 259 people on-board, from twenty-one different countries, died, as well as eleven people of the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, where the plane was downed.

In a remarkably short amount of time after the crash hundreds of people were on the scene doing the initial investigative work that would eventually lead to finding the crash's cause as well as the perpetrators of the offense. Over one thousand police officers were dispensed on to the scene, over six hundred military personnel, morticians from the Royal Air Force, and teams of investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. State Department, the Federal Aviation Agency, the Boeing Company, and Pratt and Whitney. These people started surveying a land area that was seemingly too large to negotiate, 845 square miles. The United States also moved some of their extremely sophisticated spy satellites over southern Scotland to give the investigating teams high-resolution reconnaissance photographs of the area being searched.

The investigators were able to figure out fairly quickly that what brought down Flight 103 was a bomb, as it had all of the tell-tale signs, including no emergency or distress calls prior to the crash. The bomb had been concealed inside a Toshiba radio, which was placed inside a hard-sided Samsonite suitcase that had been designated as an unaccompanied bag. The suitcase had been transferred from an Air Malta feeder flight out of Valletta.

By June of 1990, six months after the

In this essay, the author

  • Reviews the 1988 downing of pan am flight 103 over lockerbie, scotland, and the march 1995 gas attack in the tokyo subway.
  • Describes how a boeing 747 pan american airlines flight from london's heathrow airport to new york city crashed due to terrorist-placed bomb in the forward luggage compartment. all 259 people on-board, from twenty-one different countries, died.
Show More

More about Terrorism - Analysis of Pan Am 103 and the Tokyo Subway

Open Document