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This book is an analysis of terrorism and its implications for international law and politics. Terrorism has introduced an explosive element into international politics. It can trigger off crises which strain the relations between states, a strain which can reach breaking point if states allow their national interests to prevail. Cassese focuses on the Achille Lauro affair and uses this as an episode to illuminate the behaviour of modern states in response to the phenomenon of terrorism. On 7 October 1985, four members of the Palestinian Liberation Front hijacked an Italian transatlantic liner, the Achille Lauro, as it was sailing on a pleasure cruise off the coast of Egypt. In the days that followed, one dangerous and unforeseen event followed another. As states hastened to respond to unanticipated events, they hovered on the brink of crisis and conflict. The United States was first swept by fury at the murder of one of its citizens, then by euphoria as its fighter planes intercepted an Egyptian airliner thought to be carrying the terrorists.
Cassese reconstructs this complex sequence of events and examines the actions of the states involved - the USA, Italy and Egypt among others. He argues that the US government, in intercepting the Egyptian airliner, not only failed to achieve its aims but also flouted the fundamental principles of international law. This book, by an authority in international law, is intended as a major contribution to current debates on the nature of terrorism and its implications for the practices and policies of nation-states. It should be of interest to students in comparative politics, international relations and international law; and to general readers interested in the phenomenon of terrorism and how modern states respond to it.