Case #960.0

Bringing Terror to Justice: The Extraterritorial Arrest of Fawaz Yunis

Publication Date: January 01, 1990
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In the spring of 1987, officials of the National Security Council inter-agency group dealing with counter-terrorism learned of the whereabouts of Fawaz Yunis, a suspect in the 1985 hijacking of a Jordanian airliner during the course of which three US citizens had been held among the hostages. Over the following months, officials of the FBI and US intelligence agencies were able to mount a successful "sting" operation that resulted in Yunis's arrest on the high seas off Cyprus and his transport, with the help of the US Navy, to Washington. US counter-terrorism officials were satisfied that, with this arrest, they had demonstrated the US government had the logistical means and willingness to pursue terrorism suspects abroad and bring them to the US for trial. But there were difficulties for the prosecution, which hoped that Yunis's trial would test recent US legal statutes relating to terrorist acts committed abroad and provide a precedent for an "extra-territorial arrest" by US law enforcement agents. During pretrial proceedings that lasted well over a year, Yunis's defense attorney launched a series of successful challenges, asserting that Yunis had been improperly charged, that FBI agents had willfully deprived Yunis of his rights in order to obtain a confession, and that the US government was not providing access to classified documents that were necessary for Yunis's defense.

Other Details

Case Author:
Vlad Jenkins
Faculty Lead:
Philip Heymann
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Center for Criminal Justice, Harvard Law School