A situational model for distinguishing terrorist and non-terrorist aerial hijackings, 1948-2007

Susan Fahey, Gary LaFree, Laura Dugan, Alex R. Piquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the centrality of situational variables to crime theories, they remain uncommon in criminology. Based on the hypotheses drawn from the literature on situational determinants of crime, we examine whether aerial hijackings perpetrated by terrorists are situationally distinct from other aerial hijackings. We define terrorist hijackings as those that include threatened or actual use of illegal force or violence to attain a political, economic, religious or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation. Other aerial hijackings include those perpetrated for transportation or extortion purposes. Using a newly updated dataset, we examined 1,019 aerial hijackings that occurred around the world from 1948 to 2007, out of which we classified 122 as terrorism. Results provide strong support for the argument that situational factors measuring organizational resources distinguish terrorist from non-terrorist aerial hijackings, and partial support for the argument that situational factors measuring publicity distinguish these events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-595
Number of pages23
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • aerial hijacking
  • situational factors
  • terrorism

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