Terrorism: Massacre in Malta

Postmortems yield a tale of savagery and tragedy aboard a hijacked airliner

Its charred doors obscenely ajar and its windows darkened by soot, the burned-out hulk of a Boeing 737 was all that remained of EgyptAir Flight 648, once bound from Athens to Cairo with 98 passengers and crewmen aboard. As investigators milled about on the tarmac of the airport at Valletta, Malta's capital, police and rescuers sifted through the fuselage for victims, their possessions and any clue that might help explain what had happened aboard the ill-fated craft. Occasionally a stretcher shrouded in plastic would emerge, a macabre reminder that the jetliner had become a tomb for 57 travelers.

Ever since commercial...

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