World: Drama of the Desert: The Week of the Hostages

DEEP in the timeless Jordanian desert, the three silvery jetcraft glinted like metallic mirages in the afternoon sun, their finned tails emblazoned with the insignia of three famed airlines: TWA. BOAC and Swissair. Then suddenly a huge explosion, then another and another. The planes crumpled, then burst into flame. From the burning wreckage rose columns of black smoke that were visible 25 miles away in Amman, where Arab guerrillas fired their guns in celebration.

Mercifully, just hours before that apocalyptic scene occurred last week, the aircraft had...

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