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9/11 hijackers fly into World Trade Center
Hijack is a verb originally meaning to stop and rob, or seize control of a moving vehicle. The definition has been expanded to include trains, ships and aircraft (sometimes known as skyjacking).[1]

Although theft of, or from ships, is generally termed piracy where the act is politically motivated it is referred to as hijacking. The Achille Lauro, was a Greek cruise liner which was hijacked by four members of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) in October 1985, off the coast of Egypt. They sought the release of 50 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. After being refused permission to dock in Syria, the hijackers shot and killed a wheelchair-bound American citizen, Leon Klinghoffer, and threw his body overboard solely because he was Jewish.


Hijacking of TWA Flight 847, 1985
While most cases of hijacking or piracy are for common theft, skyjacking usually involves a political element. Some skyjackers have forcibly taken control of aircraft to escape from repressive regimes. However, in most cases skyjacking involves holding the crew and/or passengers as hostages in order to force a government to make some political concessions, such as the release of certain high-profile prisoners. The most notable skyjacking events were the September 11, 2001 attacks, when four aircraft were seized by Al Qaeda terrorists and used as weapons against the United States of America.

Hijacking may also refers to types of swindle or extortion, particularly on the internet where domains and IP addresses may be usurped from their rightful owners, or surfers are directed to bogus addresses.


  1. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/hijack