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Armed marshals in planes:
Yes 74%
No 25%

Votes: 27

 The Guide to Airplane Hijacking in the Post-WTC Era

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Sep 19, 2001
In the face of current developments, classical manuals such as The Complete Dummy's Guide to Airplane Hijacking are in sore need of updating. To fill this gap, Adequacy presents: The Guide to Airplane Hijacking in the Post-WTC Era.

[editor's note, by the Adequacy Staff] This information is presented for entertainment purposes only. doesn't take responsibility for anybody's actions resulting from following the directions here. The author, em, is a peaceful soul, and has no actual experience with plane hijacking, thus he might be giving you some bad advice. Don't try this at home, only on planes (NOT!!!). Also, the phrase "post-WTC era" is not intended to imply that the WTC attacks divide history into eras in any meaningful way. You are warned. Be good.


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Get a sufficiently large group of people

And buy plane tickets for each. But not too large a group-- US authorities lately are on high alert, and nothwithstanding recent public relations moves, if airport authorities review a plane passenger list and see 30 guys with arabic last names like Akmajian, Simitian or Dzindzishashvili on board, they will take action.

You want a group large enough to assure victory, but still small enough to be unconspicuous. 5 is a good number. Try to get seats not too far from each other, but still, don't seat in groups larger than 2. Don't talk to each other in the airport or plane, either. Get aisle seats for most of you, except one, which should have a window seat, preferably in an exit row.

Don't try to smuggle any sort of weapon or bomb into the plane

No weapons at all. Not even a swiss army knife. The rules have toughened up, and, after all, why bring weapons on board when the authorities will kindly do it for you?

On the other hand, do think of items that may serve as weapons. While airplanes are now issuing plastic instead of metal knives with their inflight meals, they are still providing metal forks that, while not ideally effective (and actually, possibly quite messy), can inflict a nontrivial amount of damage if wielded effectively.

The one thing you do need to do is to overcome possible religious hangups (no, you're not going to drink it, neither is anybody else) and bring onboard a sufficiently large bottle of alcohol each. Bring a 750ml bottle of fine French-Canadian beer, or some chilean wine. These bottles are perfectly legal, and make great weapons-- before breakage, the weight of the liquid inside gives them tremendous momentum and thus striking power; after breakage, well, they have lethally sharp edges. And unopened bottles are perfectly legal to transport in your carry-on baggage.

How to overpower armed air marshals

Two of you go to the airplane lavatories, the rest stay in line waiting for them to become available. Then you get out your bottles and hit the guard in the head. You have the advantage of surprise, use it. One of you should keep and eye on the passengers, to make sure they don't try anything heroic, while you secure the gun.

If this brings to your mind the idea of a burly 250 pound gorilla kicking your ass, consider the following (taken from the AP story linked above):

Hundreds of other marshals are being recruited, many of them retired law enforcement officials. [my emphasis]

You are quite likely to be confronting somebody's grandpa. Relax. Just smash those bottles into his weak, decaying bones.

How to maximize damage in case of failure

Despite the previous quote, the marshal, fed on a US diet, may well be tough, and you, who grew up struggling to eat even a meagre diet in your third world country, may find it very difficult or even impossible to overpower him, even with your superior numbers. You must be psychologically ready to accept the fact that, despite your best coordinated efforts, the guard may indeed gain the upper hand on the situation and wield his gun. In this case, there is only one way out: sudden pressure loss. You must make the marshal shoot his gun. Repeatedly. At windows. Thus, the member of your team who sat in a window seat must draw fire towards himself.

If you manage to take the gun, sudden pressure loss means that in case of any problem that jeopardizes your mission, you should shoot out a window to abort your mission.


So you and your fellow freedom fighters managed to take out a marshal, secure his gun, and get the situation under control. Now you may proceed as normal, following the recommendations of your trusted Complete Dummy's Guide to Airplane Hijacking as usual. May your deity of choice or tradition be with you!


Thank You (4.40 / 5) (#12)
by Anonymous Reader on Wed Sep 19th, 2001 at 04:22:15 PM PST
Hijacking has generally been a fairly benevolent activity. Passengers have not resisted hijackers because they knew that if they cooperated, they would be released.

The WTC attack has changed all that. Changed it for the worse.

My people, the Tamil freedom fighters of Sri Lanka, have long used hijacking as a means of negotiation with government forces. We have been very upset with the thought that these selfish extremists have destroyed such a potent weapon of freedom fighters everywhere.

I can only hope that with the advice given in this article hijacking will once again be a viable method of political bargainning.

Yours, Anonymous Reader

umm, no (none / 0) (#31)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 05:37:16 PM PST
The hijackers who crashed into the pentagon specifically told the passengers to call their families, because they were going to die.

gee thanks (1.60 / 5) (#13)
by Anonymous Reader on Wed Sep 19th, 2001 at 05:43:40 PM PST
Not only can I not post in linux, now everytime I visit this place, my install of GNU/Echelon now pegs my cpu utilization. Nice work guys.

Woo Hoo (3.50 / 6) (#15)
by Anonymous Reader on Wed Sep 19th, 2001 at 08:07:53 PM PST
I should do that on my page too. I hate having unruly linux users coming to my page, forcing me to support the lowest common denominator. A simple little script should fix them good! Once again, pulls through.

Thanks Guys!

This is the problem with Linsux users (3.75 / 8) (#16)
by Anonymous Reader on Wed Sep 19th, 2001 at 10:10:47 PM PST
At my ISP we have to deal with your type all the time.

About once a month we have some loser who calls us up and say, "Your servers are buggy and I can't log in with Linsux." When the truth is that our servers work just fine because we don't use buggy freeware.

Basically, Linsux is a scaled down version of Solaris without any documentation or standards. As a test we tried to install and it and we were able to configure fine. Some things were misconfigured by default but any Unix admin could fix that.

The problem is that there are no standards for Linsux and so our help desk isn't able to handle all the different crappy versions of Linsux that people use. Eventually we just said: screw it. It's not worth it from a business perspective to try support the tiny number of Linux users.

Saddly, even though it clearly says on our brochures that we support Microsoft and Apple, we still have to get calls from some weenie who tries to run Linsux. Can't you people read???

My guess is that you can post from Lisnux fine but you have something configured wrong... Why don't you guys get jobs so you can afford a real operating system. An operating system where even people of your limited intelects will be able to get online and post to buliten board systems?

Sheesh! It's not that complicated folks.

I feel your pain (3.50 / 6) (#17)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 06:54:09 AM PST
I've dealt with various tech support types. I have accumulated a bit of experience and pretty well now know how skills pan out.

  • Operating systems. No, I don't mean anything windows, I'm talking about production systems, you know, the ones you could depend on before the k-mart of computing overran what used to be a set of reliable, dependable systems that respected the need to preserve data. These tech support folks are astoundingly deep in their knowledge, not only presenting obvious experience in trivia in all of the corners of the systems they support, they also have very sound knowledge in computer science. Very impressive.
  • Database systems. Once again, deep savvy, and they understand that when you call, you need help, as there are people depending on you as you depend on the consultants that you call. Before the k-mart of software arrived in the enterprise, you could be absolutely sure that irregardless of any disaster, if you had the one braincell required to do backups, you would be back in business in the bare minimum of time it took to replace whatever hardware needed replaced, or in the rare instance you had a software problem, they'd have the answer.
  • Hardware. No brainer. Most of the time engineers themselves, again have seen everything, and since I was often the rare soul who has ever assembled a digital device, I would take this opportunity to get any insight I could into the state of the art or troubleshooting tactics, and often they would have a war story themselves of some of the absurd things malfunctioning hardware could do.
  • PC hardware support. It seems that, whatever software job I landed would always result in me being the resident PC monkey, as I could use a screwdriver, and so I would avail myself of corporate tech support for PCs. These folks of course saw everything too, obviously due to the large volume had in their experience, and I would often buff up my PC knowledge at any chance, ie., "I know this isn't the case for this call, but..."
  • Server support. This is an interesting one, previously before the invasion of the k-mart of computing, these folks were once again astoundingly competent and although most of the time server issues were hardware related (this being a Microsoft fan page, most of you folks have never seen true software reliability and actual testing of products), these folks knew their software too, and also knew how these two areas interacted. When I was involved in transitions to systems hosted on the k-mart of computing, we would talk about Microsoft, and laugh until we cried, and mourn the days when dropdead solid engineering meant something. On the issue of software reliability, I ran DBMS software marked "experimental", which reached reliability that will never be achieved by the most mature of Microsofts product line in any area.
  • ISP support. In all the previous areas, there was an aura of competence, indeed, of mastery of their subject. ISP's on the other hand reflected the gold rush nature of the internet, and nowhere did this show up more glaringly than ISP tech support. While personable enough, it was clear that these poor folks felt lucky not to be slinging burgers by virtue of having clicked a mouse at some point in their life. Fortunately, given my immense savvy and experience with the human condition, I have without fail been able to help the poor ISP techie suck up his drool and lead them through their little checklist in as timely a manner as possible so I could get any issue escalated to somebody who has actually had experience in diagnosing problems.
So yes, I do feel your pain, it surely must be a struggle clinging to such a tenuous position knowing you could be replaced at anytime by absolutely anybody. You yourself are indeed fortunate, as since there is an actual unix box, some typing ability of some unknown degree has been forced upon you, so you also have the option of grocery clerk because you may be actually able to successfully administrate a mechanical device. But still, friend, you indeed have my pity, and as a device to boost your self esteem, I applaud your post, I only laughed for a few minutes. Have a great day!


You know (1.00 / 3) (#25)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 11:03:03 AM PST
I would have actually read through your entire comment, but I got bored by the time that I was through the first sentence. You need to learn how to format your text a little better, and in the process, learn to actually think before you say anything.


Hmm... (3.60 / 5) (#18)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 07:51:14 AM PST
All people in certain ethnic groups are terrorists, so naturally all users of linux are poor 14 year old kids who can't afford a "real" operating system?

Mmm... no. I won't go into the in-depth debate, as I frankly don't care much for linux myself, even though I am using it at this very moment with no problem what so ever. My point, however, is thus: Don't assume. Did you install a copy of linux and Echelon, and verify that the site indeed works properly with it? Did you contact this person and ask what specific problems he or she was having so that you could understand both views of the issue? I more then seriously doubt it.

I hate to bust a few bubbles, but this site would not exist if not for linux (More to the point OSS in general, yet linux is the catalyst for most) and it's free-software developers, even if the server OS itself is AIX.

So, as much as a reply of bad taste goes along with an article in one, you may want to put a bit more effort into forming valid arguements against linux and the people whom use it. There certainly are enough of them out there.

Come on... (5.00 / 2) (#23)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 10:14:55 AM PST
Give the guy a break. He's probably just a 14 year old retarded script kiddie anyway, who just stumbled by accident into a Linux install kit in his desperate and pathetic quest for "geek coolness". He rightfully belongs in Winblows land - I bet you he even has an AOL account.

You, and the rest of the tech support crowd, will never hear from *real* linux users because we're simply too smart to need tech support. After all, we did write our own OS - do you think we would need the help of some poor underqualified tech support serf for such laughably simple stuff like getting on the Net or posting comments on some stupid weblog? Hell no. Figuring out how to accomplish such trivial tasks is no match for our superior intellect; tech support is not only useless, it would merely get in the way. I know the first thing I throw away whenever I buy hardware or Internet access is the tech support contact info sheet, followed closely by registration cards, pamphlets and all that junk I have no use for.

So please do make the distinction between real linux users and brain-damaged Winblows zombies who are just trying to look like they know something about computers, but they only manage to make themselves look like morons, as your parent clearly illustrates.

And just FYI, real linux users *do* have real jobs - you know, with real companies like IBM and HP, doing bleeding-edge research -, unlike your average Winblows dummy who is most likely to end up spending their lives in tech support hell, doing "fascinating" stuff like explaining to bored housewives how to get on AOL. I sometimes wonder why do people even call tech support a "job", when it's actually little more than a dumpster for discarded incompetent MCSE's.

Anyway, have fun with Winblows and Macintrash users at that little ISP of yours, and don't be too harsh on the occasional linux weenie - they're not really linux users, they're just Winblows sheep who strayed from the herd.

You forgot: No pool tournaments (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by localroger on Wed Sep 19th, 2001 at 07:02:47 PM PST
Absolutely make sure there are no pool tournaments (the kind using cue balls on felt-topped tables) at your destination.

On one flight to Las Vegas, half the passengers had these interesting cases just about the right size to hold shotguns. Obviously they couldn't be holding shotguns -- on an AIRPLANE? Eavesdropping on conversation during the 2.5 hr flight we quickly realized the cases held pool cues, and that these folks were on the way to a medium-money pool tournament at the Riviera.

My first thought after hearing about the box-cutter WTC hijackings was that, had they tried to hijack that plane to Las Vegas full of rednecks who knew the luggage racks were full of pool cues, they would have had BIG problems.

security holes - get 'em while they're hot (5.00 / 2) (#19)
by yami on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 08:26:00 AM PST
A recent security bulletin from the Air Line Pilot's Association points out several features and loopholes of import to any potential hijacker:
  • In some aircraft, it is possible to lower the jumpseat to block the cockpit door or serve as an impediment to cockpit entry. Canadian pilots should limit jumpseat access to only airline employees whose identity can be verified.
  • Aircraft cockpits are equipped with a crash ax, which should be considered a potential defensive weapon in the event of a suicidal hijacking. The ax should only be wielded if the crewmember is convinced that using it is necessary to save lives - the pilot must be both mentally and physically prepared to take the life of a cockpit intruder, or the ax could be used against the pilot.
  • Improper controls on airline employee identification media contributed to a suicidal former employee bringing down PSA flight 1771 in 1987; better controls on ID have yet to be implemented in spite of this event.

Why should we plant when there are so many mongongo nuts in the world?

I have an idea (5.00 / 3) (#20)
by bc on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 08:57:31 AM PST
They could, like, build a really really thick iron wall between the pilots cabin and the rest of the plane, and forbid communication between the two. Then all attempted terrorist bargaining/takeover scenarios would fail.

I think I will write to the government with this suggestion.

♥, bc.

but (0.00 / 1) (#21)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 09:06:37 AM PST
what if the pilots have to poop

I believe Isreali airlines have a similar policy (5.00 / 3) (#24)
by motherfuckin spork on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 10:31:28 AM PST
already in effect.

I think its Isreal, anyway... some nation out there has put a wall between pilots and passengers for just this very reason.

I am not who you think I am.

Israeli Airlines (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by winston on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 01:09:22 PM PST
Correct. Israel's El Al airline also arms the pilots and stewardesses. Even if terrorists successfully hijacked the plane, they'd have to face the Mossad.

Seen any elevator operators lately? (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by typical geek on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 09:20:27 AM PST
No, they've become obsolete, due to technology. We can do the same with those prima donnas of the sky, pilots. If you look at this latest tragedy and the EgpytAir suicide, it's apparent that humans at the yoke are the weakest link.

Most modern airliners can take off, navigate and fly, and land at their destination with the pilot doing nothing more than hitting one button. We need to update all the commercial passenger planes to do this.

Before takeoff, the airplane computer runs a self test, then gets the flight plan uploaded. It follows ground control direction to get on the right runway, then takes off when told to. AFter that, it's all computer run.

I suppose for the rare emergency, you can build in a secure air to ground link, perhaps using Blowfish or some other Schnier approved encryption.

And think what the airlines can charge for a first class seat in the cockpit! Very expensive cockpit fares, no pilots, tickets will be cheaper than ever, and no hijacking!

gcc is to software freedom as guns are to personal freedom.

Bad idea.. (none / 0) (#32)
by flikx on Thu Sep 27th, 2001 at 08:41:35 PM PST
Why should hijaX0rZ even board a plane? All 31337 hijaX0rZ can use their 1337 sk1llz to do their damage from the safety of their run down florida apartments!
There is no sig. Get over it.

Marshal's weapon (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 11:35:14 AM PST
More than likely, the gun will be using frangible ammo like Glaser rounds. They will happily tear the crap out of a terrorist but will not be able to penetrate the aluminum skin. It may not even penetrate the triple layered glass/lexan windows.

Good, no terrorist will think to smuggle bullets, (none / 0) (#27)
by typical geek on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 12:12:47 PM PST
teflon coated bullets that will easily pierce the thin skin of an airliner. Those good old metal detectors looking for ferrous items will almost certainly sniff out brass and lead.

gcc is to software freedom as guns are to personal freedom.

Read your post please (none / 0) (#30)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Sep 20th, 2001 at 04:17:19 PM PST
Teflon *coated*. There's plenty of metal underneath.


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