September 28, 1966: Hostage taking in the Falkland Islands

Argentinian nationalists hijacked an airliner and took hostages in an effort to force the UK to recognise Argentine sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.

Anti-colonial anger has long been a cause-celebre for terrorism.

FALKLAND ISLANDS — Do you remember the Falkland Islands war on the early 1980s? Was there ever a more ridiculous reason to go to battle? England tried to retain control of a windswept bunch of rocks off the coast of Argentina, thousands of kilometres from Old Blimey in an anachronistic effort at maintaining their empire.

No, I do not want to be seen as condoning what the military dictatorship in Buenos Aires did, and yes I acknowledge that the Falkland Islanders, all 1,820 of them (and presumably all 400,000 sheep which would have followed the human population because…well, because they’re sheep and that is what sheep do!), wanted to remain part of the UK, but go to war over this? Seriously?

Colonial occupation, and let’s face it the Falklands were a holdover from the Napoleonic wars, is a huge motivation for insurrection and terrorism, feeding the debate over freedom fighters vs. terrorists. As legendary terrorism scholar David Rapoport pointed out long ago, anti-colonial violent extremism was the harbinger of his second wave of terrorism (click here for my podcast interview of Prof. Rapoport).

On this day in 1966

To illustrate this point there was an incident in the Falklands Islands that fits this bill. Except that it happened 15 years BEFORE the war of 1982. Argentinian nationalists, in an act codenamed Operacion Condor, hijacked an AerolĂ­neas Argentinas flight from Buenos Aires to Rio Gallegos, took hostages, and demanded that the aircraft be flown to Stanley, capital of the Falklands.

Once on the ground they raised the Argentinian flag and pressured the Governor of the islands to recognise Argentina’s sovereignty over the collection of rocks. A day later, after negotiating through a Catholic priest, the hijackers surrendered and were returned to Argentina for trial.

The Falklands are still part of Britain and I would think some Argentinians want them back (they call them the Islas Malvinas). Then again, I would also imagine the majority of Argentines (and Brits) could give a rat’s ass about the whole affair. Or a sheep’s for that matter.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

Leave a Reply