"No concessions to terrorists": a study of American counterterrorism policy 1973-1991

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


University of New Brunswick


Following the 1973 attack on the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum, which ultimately led to the capture and death of the American ambassador to Sudan, the Nixon Administration formally adopted the "no concession to terrorists" policy. While in theory this policy was based on sound reasoning (by giving concessions to terrorists you will simply encourage more terrorism), it ultimately proved untenable in practice, due in large part to pressure by the media as well as by victims families' on the government to 'do something'. This thesis will briefly discuss the evolution of American counterterrorism up to and including the 1970s, and then focus on three major case studies to show that the rhetoric of the "no concessions" policy does not always match the reality of the situation. These studies include: The Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979-1981, the TWA Flight 847 hijacking of 1985 and the Lebanese Hostage Crisis, in which several dozen Western citizens were kidnapped between 1982 and 1991.