On January 29, 2013 Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year old Vietnam War veteran hijacked a Dale County school bus and killed its driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr. He also took Ethan, a five-year old student from Midland Elementary School as a hostage. Dyke’s bunker, where he stored some homemade bombs, was equipped with a ventilation pipe used as a mode of communication and to pass through toys, books and medications for Ethan. The crisis came to an end on 5 days later when officers forced through the bunker, killing Dyke and finally freeing Ethan.
Baghdad Church Attack
Our lady of Salvation, a Catholic cathedral in Baghdad, Iraq was attacked on October 31, 2010 during a Sunday evening mass by an al-Qaeda-linked Sunni rebel group. The attack left 58 people dead, while more than 100 people were taken as hostages, 19 of whom were able to escape before Iraqi Special Forces stormed the church to rescue them. Backed by American aerial support, the 4-hour siege resulted in the death of 41 hostages.
The crisis, which ensued on September 1, 2010 at the company’s headquarters in Silver Springs, Maryland, started when James Lee took three people as hostages in the building’s lobby. Armed with two starter pistols and an explosive device, 43-year old Lee began by firing a single round at the lobby’s ceiling. After 4 hours of lockdown, evacuation, and negotiations, Lee was shot dead by the police.
The Munich Olympic Tragedy
Commonly known as the “Munich Massacre,” this crisis took place during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Bavaria in Germany where 11 Israeli team athletes were taken as captives and eventually killed, along with a German officer. Perpetrated by the Palestinian Group ‘Black September,’ they demanded the release of 234 prisoners held in Israeli prison. Eight of the terrorist’s members were killed during the failed rescue attempt with three surviving assassins captured. Israel responded with ‘Operation Spring of Youth’ and ‘Operation Wrath of God,’ where they tracked down and killed all the Palestinians who were suspected to be involved in the massacre.
The Ma’alot Massacre
This two-day hostage-taking situation involved 115 people, where 105 of them were children. It took place on May 15, 1974 when three armed Palestinian radicals of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine entered Israel from Lebanon. Most of the hostages were teenagers on a field trip and spending a night in Ma’alot in the Netiv Meir Elementary School. The hostage-takers demanded the release of 23 Palestinian militants from Israeli prisons or the students would be killed. When the Golani Brigade stormed the building after two days, the hostage-takers killed their hostages with grenades and automatic weapons ending in the death of 28 hostages, including 22 children.
Patricia Hearst Shaw, an American newspaper heiress, socialite, and occasional actress was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in 1974. The granddaughter of self-made millionaire George Hearst and daughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst gained notoriety when she eventually joined in the causes of her captors. Because of this when she was apprehended with other SLA members while robbing a bank she was imprisoned for two years before her sentence was commuted. She was later granted a presidential pardon by President Bill Clinton as her actions were attributed to the Stockholm syndrome, where captives sympathize with their captors.
Iran Hostage Crisis
A diplomatic crisis between the countries of Iran and the United States, it escalated when a group of Islamist students invaded the American embassy in support of the Iranian revolution. They took 52 US diplomats hostage for 444 days on November 4, 1979 until January 20, 1981, just a few minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the new US president. When a number of negotiations for release failed, the US military attempted a rescue operation called ‘Operation Eagle Claw’ on April 24, 1980, but this resulted in an aborted mission, crash of two aircrafts, and the death of 8 American servicemen and an Iranian civilian. The crisis ended with the signing of the Algiers Accord on January 19, 1981, after which the hostages were finally released.
Father Lawrence Martin Jenco
A native of Joliet, Illinois, Father Jenco was serving as director of the Catholic Relief Services when he was taken hostage by five armed Shiite Muslims in Beirut on January 1985 for 564 days. While confined, he spent his days meditating, praying, and by making a rosary out of a thread of a sack. He was a captive along with other hostages, including tennis player Terry Anderson. He suffered greatly during this incident as he spent much time chained and blindfolded, including suffering serious eye infections and other health problems, and though he suffered beatings from the guard and other inhumane acts, in the end, he chose to forgive those who mistreated him.
Terry Anderson, the famous tennis player held captive with Father Jenco, was the last hostage accounted for on December 4, 1991. A family reunion followed and the world watched as he saw his daughter who was born three months after his capture for the first time.
An English humanitarian and author, he was an assistant for the Anglican Communion Affairs when he negotiated for the release of four hostages including journalist John McCarthy as an emissary for the Church of England. He traveled to Lebanon on January 20, 1987 to negotiate with the Islamic Jihad Organization, but was also himself held captive for 1,763 days from 1987 to 1991 when the group broke trust.
The Lebanon Hostage Crisis
This systematic series of abductions in Lebanon involved 96 foreign nationals being taken as captives between 1982 and 1992. Those who committed these crimes used different names though they all belonged to the same Hezbollah organization. These terrorist acts were viewed as “insurance against retaliation by the US, Syrian, and other forces.” Casualties included 230 Americans and 58 Frenchmen who they thought were responsible for the Marine barracks and embassy bombings in Beirut.
The Kizlyar-Pervomayskoye Hostage Crisis
This crisis occurred during the First Chechen War when a raid made by guerillas against a military airbase became a massive hostage crisis that involved thousands of civilians. The assault, which destroyed 3 helicopters and killed 33 personnel and other soldiers, led the Russian military to pursue the Chechen guerrillas, who entered the town itself and took 2,000 to 3,400 civilian hostages. Fighting ensued and the rebels then fled to Pervomayskoye in a column of 11 buses and 2 trucks where they seized an additional 100 hostages from the village. Because the Russian army did not permit journalists access to the village, it is hard to determine the full extent of civilian casualties.
The Alta View Hospital Hostage Crisis
This hostage crisis on the night of September 20, 1991 at Alta View Hospital in Sandy, Utah by Richard Worthington stemmed from his attempt to kill Dr. Glade Curtis, who performed a tubal ligation on his wife. Armed with a shotgun, handgun, and dynamite, which he planted on the hospital grounds, he entered the hospital’s Women Center and took 2 nurses, 3 people, and 2 newborns as hostages for 18 hours. One nurse, Karla Roth, wound up dead and Richard was sentenced to 35 years in prison, though he committed suicide on November 11, 1993.
Lindhurst High School Shooting
On May 1, 1992, Eric Houston barged into his former school in Olivehurst, California armed with a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun and sawed off .22 caliber rifle, killing a teacher and 3 students, while wounding 9 others. He held over 80 hostages in an eight-hour standoff before surrendering to the police.
Sacramento Hostage Crisis
On April 4, 1991, four young Vietnamese refugees barged into the Good Guys! Electronic store in Sacramento, California, after a botched robbery. The largest hostage rescue operation on American soil, it involved over 50 hostages held at gunpoint for about 8 hours. Armed with three pistols and a shotgun, they killed three hostages and injured 14. However, three of the suspects, ages 17 to 21, were killed, while the fourth one was captured by the authorities.
Gracia and Martin Burnham
The Burnhams, US protestant missionaries that served in the Philippines for 17 years since 1986, were a part of a large group that was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group, an Islamist separatist terrorist organization, on May 27, 2001. While most of the group was killed or freed after ransoms had been paid, the terrorist group demanded a million dollars for the couple’s release. Though $300,000 was paid, the group still refused to free them, until the Philippine Army tried to rescue them on June 7, 2002. In this encounter Martin was killed by three gunshots in the chest while Gracia was wounded in her right knee.
Beslan School Hostage Crisis
Also known as ‘the Beslan school siege’ or ‘the Beslan massacre,’ this hostage situation took place at School Number One (SNO) a Russian town in Beslan, North Ossetia-Alania, on September 1, 2004. A group of armed terrorists led by Shamil Basayev were demanding the end of the Second Chechen War so they took more than 1,100 people including nearly 800 children as hostages in the school. Russian security forces stormed the building on the third day of the standoff with their tanks and incendiary rockets resulting in the deaths of over 380 people.
An American contractor, Roy Hallums was kidnapped along with Roberto Tangonoy from the Philippines, Inus Dewari of Nepal, and three Iraqis in Iran on November 1, 2004 when 20 gunmen stormed the compound where they were working in the Mansour District of Baghdad. While the other hostages were later released after the abduction, Hallums remained in captivity. A videotape of Hallums, with a long beard and a gun pointed at his head was released on January 25, 2005 wherein he appealed not to the US government, but called on Libyan president Muammar al-Gaddafi to aid him in his release. Gaddafi later on called for his release and he was freed on September 7, 2005 along with an Iraqi captive when the American troops raided a farmhouse 15 miles south of Baghdad, the location apparently given by an Iraqi detainee.
West Nickel Mines Hostage Taking
On October 2, 2006, a gunman named Charles Carl Roberts IV took hostages at an Amish school in Bart Township, Pennsylvania. Armed with a handgun, shotgun, and rifle, he shot 10 girls aging from 6 to 13 years old, where 5 of the children died. He later on committed suicide, but this event gained the attention of the national media due to the Amish community’s emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation.
Eloá Pimentel, a 15-year-old girl from Brazil, was involved in a hostage crisis on October 13, 2008 along with her friend, Nayara de Silva. She was held captive for 100 hours, the longest ever in São Paulo, and gained international exposure due to the many errors committed by the police. Eloá and Nayara were working on a school project with two other friends when her ex boyfriend, Lidemberg Fernandes Alves barged in with a pistol. He soon released the two boys and on October 16, Silva was released but was suggested by the police to return again as a hostage. Later, shots were heard and the GATE or the Special Tactical Group stormed in the house and immobilized him, but not before he shot Eloá in the head and the groin, and hit Nayara’s face. Eloá became brain dead and died.
A codename for the Pakistani Army General Headquarters attack, this was a hostage-rescue mission carried out by its SSG Division on October 10, 2009. It was implemented in response to the major escalation in Pakistan’s domestic insurgency. Ten gunmen in military uniforms open fired on the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, Pakistan where the attack killed 9 soldiers and 2 civilians. The militants later on infiltrated the security buildings where 22 civilian and military officials were held hostage, resulting in the rescue operation: Operation Janbaz.
The Manila Hostage Crisis
Otherwise known as “the Rizal Park hostage-taking incident,” this event happened when a dismissed Philippine National Police officer hijacked a tourist bus carrying 20 tourists from Hong Kong on August 23, 2010. Rolando Mendoza was a disgruntled Manila Police District officer who wanted to get his job back as he believed that he was unfairly dismissed. However, things took a turn for the worse when he saw his brother being arrested, which incited him to open fire. The bus driver managed to escape as the shooting began, which resulted in Mendoza’s end along with eight of the hostages, while others were injured. The MPD’s failure at a rescue attempt and the bungled shoot-out was watched worldwide via television and the internet leading both the Philippine and Hong Kong government to conduct their separate investigations, and a ‘black travel alert’ to the Philippines issued by the Hong Kong government.
This event, which took place in Singapore on January 31, 1974, occurred when four men armed with submachine guns and explosives assaulted the Shell oil refinery in Pulau Bukom to disrupt the oil supply from Singapore to other countries due to the oppression of the Arab masses in the Middle East. They were able to detonate 3 out of 12 explosives they were carrying but left minimal damage. They hijacked a ferryboat bound for Laju in an attempt to escape and held 5 of its crew members captive. After 8 days of negotiations, they agreed to release their hostages in exchange for safe passage to the Middle East.
Sabena Flight 571
On May 8, 1972, a Boeing 707 passenger plane with a scheduled flight from Vienna to Tel Aviv was hijacked by a group of two men and two women from the Black September organization. The flight, which was captained by an English pilot named Reginald Levy landed at Lod Airport where the hijackers separated the Jews from the non-Jews and sent them back to the aircraft. They also demanded for the release of 315 Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons. A rescue operation, codenamed “Operation Isotope,” by a team of 16 Sayeret Maktal commandos was carried out the next day killing the two men and capturing the two women hijackers.
The Amenas Hostage Crisis
On January 16, 2013, a group of al-Qaeda linked terrorists led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, captured 800 people at the Tigantourine gas facility in Amenas, Algeria. It resulted in the death of 39 foreign hostages along with an Algerian security guard, with 29 dead from the terrorist group. A total of 685 Algerian workers and 107 foreigners were freed, while three of the terrorists were captured when Algerian forces stormed the facility four days into the standoff.