In 1978, Egypt and Cyprus clashed while terrorists held hostages in an airplane. The Cypriot government, under President Spyros Kyprianou, who personally handled the negotiations with Arab terrorists, faced an Egyptian crack antiterrorist group. The Egyptian troops attempted to free the hostages without the authorization of Kyprianou. The Egyptians, aiming for an Entebbe-style operation, met the determined Cypriot National Guard, who opened fire against them, killing 15 commandos and destroying their C-130H transport in a 50-minute battle at the Larnaca airport. The government of Cyprus was willing to show the world that they could defend their sovereignty, even at the cost of being viewed as negotiating with terrorists and defeating an anti-terrorist unit. British diplomats assessed the unfolding crisis hour-by-hour and provided a balanced account of the complex web of relations among Cyprus, Egypt, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). The conclusion of this forgotten crisis may be relevant to today’s war on terrorism strategy; no matter how weak a country is considered, no matter how high the terrorist threat might be, states planning a foreign intervention should obtain the agreement of the sovereign government first.
GROWING MIDDLE EASTERN PRESENCE IN CYPRUS
The British defense staff, assessing the security situation on Cyprus in November 1975, one year after the Turkish invasion, noted the growing presence of Middle Eastern groups on the island. Middle Eastern terrorist groups were considered “potential rather than actual threat” to the UK Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs). Syria protested the British presence on the island, blaming London for backing Israel and the United States. The PLO maintained an office in Nicosia, and traffic to Arab ports (especially to Beirut) remained unrestricted by the authorities. There was fear that “the stage [was] well set for terrorist action.” The recognition of the PLO by Archbishop Makarios III, the president of Cyprus, surprised members of his government who had not been consulted and caused Israel to be suspicious of him. The US embassy in Nicosia assessed that according to fragmentary intelligence reports of “undetermined reliability,” recognition “is not necessary for PLO to engage in terrorist activity against Israeli (or US) mission here [in Nicosia]. Adequate covert support could be—and has been—provided by Libyans or Syrians. Therefore we do not believe that establishment of PLO office significantly increases terrorist threat against American presence.” However, three years later Cyprus and Egypt would be called upon to deal with a hostage situation and an unprecedented crisis in their relations.
ASSASSINATION AND HIJACKING
On the morning of February 18, 1978, Yusuf Sebai, a prominent pro-Sadat Egyptian editor, was murdered by a Kuwaiti and a Jordanian at the Nicosia Hilton. The 61-year-old Sebai was about to address the Russian-sponsored Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization (AAPSO), an organization of which he was secretary general. The assailants gunned down Sebai next to the hotel bookstore in the lobby and stormed the conference room. Holding a grenade and revolvers, shouting, they summoned 50 delegates, took them hostage in the hotel cafeteria, and used them to negotiate their way out. Among the hostages were two PLO members. Two Cypriot police constables were compelled to hand over their revolvers. Vassos Lyssarides, the vice president of the AAPSO presidium, offered himself as an emissary. The terrorists demanded to talk with Christodoulos Veniamin, the minister of the interior, who duly arrived after Lyssarides called him. The minister offered himself as a hostage. Non-Arab delegates and women were soon released.
By 2 pm, the Cypriot government agreed to let the terrorists escape aboard an airplane. The 15 remaining hostages, in addition to Lyssarides and Veniamin, reached Larnaca airport by bus. They stayed there until 8 pm, when three more hostages were freed, as was Veniamin. The other hostages and the assailants boarded a Cyprus Airways DC-8 (“which with unconscious irony assumed the flight number 007”). British civil aviation captains Melling and Cox, Greek-Cypriot pilot Marios Koutsouftides, and flight engineer Hajicostis manned the plane with the two terrorists and 12 hostages (four Egyptians, three Palestinians, two Syrians, one Moroccan, one Sudanese, and one Somali). The hijackers, being “in a highly nervous state,” as Melling remarked later, tried first to reach Tripoli, Libya. As the plane approached Benghazi, the Libyan authorities denied landing permission. The terrorists seemed confused and surprised by this and gave new directions towards South Yemen. Again, the local authorities refused to host them. Eventually, the DC-8 reached Djibouti at 4:30 am on February 19, where it was refueled; however, they could not disembark since the authorities did not want the terrorists to flee. Only Koutsouftides exited the plane, and from the control tower he tried desperately to communicate with Nicosia. At last one telex line of the Cyprus embassy in Paris allowed communication. The hostages appealed to their government to accept the DC-8, only to be rebuked. Via Koutsouftides, President Kyprianou offered the hijackers Cyprus passports as well safe passage off the island if they would fly back to Larnaca. Lyssarides assumed the role of chief negotiator.
Kyprianou was in communication with Yasir Arafat, the head of the PLO, who was most anxious to save the lives of the PLO members held hostage. The president agreed to allow 16 unarmed PLO fighters to reach Larnaca to help in case of a rescue operation. A close associate of Lyssarides flew to Beirut to bring in the Palestinians. Both Kyprianou and the PLO denied this team having any participation in the subsequent fighting. The acceptance of the PLO mission was a political gesture by Kyprianou to an organization he did not want to alienate.
At noon, Kyprianou spoke with Sadat over the phone expressing his personal interest in the issue and his aim for a peaceful resolution. Sadat thanked him without mentioning anything regarding sending an Egyptian crack antiterrorist unit to Larnaca. At about 5:40 pm, the DC-8 touched ground at Larnaca airport, 100 yards from the terminal building. Five minutes later the prime minister of Egypt called the undersecretary to the Cypriot president and informed him that his minister of information was en route to Cyprus to observe the negotiations. There was no mention of sending troops or of a proposal for joint action. Later, after the battle, Sadat claimed that the Cypriot official had been told (rather cryptically) that “sons of ours coming to help them [the Cyprus government] face this aggression [the terrorists’ actions].” However, the Cyprus government remained in the dark. Using a radio telephone from the control tower, Kyprianou himself tried to persuade the hijackers to surrender, almost 35 minutes after they had landed. It was a daring and controversial move for the president of the republic to be directly involved in negotiations with terrorists. The terrorists declined, demanding to negotiate in person with Lyssarides only.
Lyssarides undertook the task of negotiating at 6:35 pm, accompanied by Colonel Hadad, the Syrian military attaché. Both men carefully approached the airplane, and from the foot of the staircase they talked with one hijacker. He demanded Cypriot passports and air tickets to a Communist country, Bulgaria or Czechoslovakia. Lyssarides returned to the control tower, where Kyprianou was consulting with his ministers. The president accepted the demands of the terrorists but stated to his entourage that once the hostages were released the terrorists would be arrested.
At 6:40 pm an Egyptian military transport, a C-130H, approached the airport. The aviation authorities assumed that it was carrying the Egyptian minister of information and duly gave permission to land. The aircraft parked approximately 800-1,000 yards from the DC-8; the terrorists and hostages were not aware of its presence. The Cypriot minister of communications and works and the chief of police drove to the C-130H to greet the minister. There they realized that instead of meeting a cabinet member they were greeting Task Force 777, an anti-terrorist unit numbering 70 troops and a jeep. The Cypriot officials must have been really stunned. The police chief and his bodyguard climbed on the plane to be near the signaler who communicated with the control tower. The minister returned to Kyprianou. Foreign Secretary Christophides summoned the Egyptian ambassador, making it clear that there was no permission for a commando operation. Kyprianou himself warned the ambassador that in case of a commando raid the National Guard would open fire on them. The diplomat just promised that no assault would take place.
Western diplomats observing the developing situation assumed that the Cypriot government underestimated the determination of the Egyptians to get involved in a rescue attempt. The C-130H was not called to take off by the control tower. The National Guard troops remained hidden so as not to provoke the terrorists. Cypriot police snipers in plain clothes were also deployed, invisible to the Egyptians and the hijackers. Yet it is truly surprising that no commercial inbound or outbound flights were suspended on security grounds. The traffic for an airport facing a hostage crisis was just extraordinary: at 5 pm a Karair plane landed; at 6:10 pm a private plane from Paris landed; from 6:45 to 6:55 pm three private planes landed; at 6:55 a Karair plane departed; from 7 to 7:05 pm two more planes departed; at 7:25 pm another private plane took off; at 7:45 pm a Royal Jordanian airplane with 55 transit passengers landed; at 7:50 pm a Cyprus Airways airplane from Athens arrived and was stationed next to the Egyptian C-130H; at 8:20 pm 21 passengers boarded a Royal Jordanian flight for Amman and a Cyprus Airways flight from Tel Aviv arrived, from which 85 passengers disembarked; and at 8:29 pm a charter plane with journalists arrived from Amman. Nicosia underlined that “embarking and disembarking passengers passed on foot within one hundred and fifty yards of the DC-8, clearly indicating that the Cyprus government did not at any time anticipate violence.” This traffic showed that Kyprianou and Lyssarides’s hopes that negotiations would succeed and there would not be any need for a rescue operation. For his part, the commander of Task Force 777 paid no attention to the civil aviation flights or to the safety of transit passengers, lest they find themselves in a crossfire between the Egyptian commandos and the terrorists.
At 7:15 pm, Lyssarides commenced a new round of negotiations with the hijackers. At that moment, the Egyptian defense attaché and another Egyptian officer “surreptitiously approached the negotiators by the side of the aircraft.” Cypriot police disarmed them on the spot and led them off the tarmac; however, they could not arrest the attaché because he enjoyed diplomatic immunity. Kyprianou witnessed the incident from the control tower. The attaché tried to become the hero of the day at the expense of the negotiators’ lives and the hostages who could end up in close-quarter crossfire. The hijackers and the hostages were unaware of the attaché’s attempt. Lyssarides reached an agreement with the terrorists to hand them passports with their photos on them. After this the hijackers looked relaxed, preparing themselves for taking the passport photos with a Polaroid.
It was 8:25 pm when the Egyptian defense attaché went to the C-130H to talk to the commandos. In front of the Cypriot police chief he spoke in English, telling the commanding officer, General Nabil Shukri, not to attack. However, the Egyptians then began speaking to each other in Arabic. A minute or two later the chief of police was pulled into the aircraft. According to the Egyptian defense attaché who spoke with the British later, Shukri overheard the DC-8’s radio communication with the control tower and wrongly assumed that the negotiation had stalled. This is what Sadat suggested later at the funeral of the commandos in Cairo.
At 8:30 pm a white jeep appeared on the ramp of the transport. It drove close to the DC-8 at a high speed. Egyptian troops followed on foot, marching and shooting at and above the cockpit. Then the National Guard troops received the green light to fire at the Egyptians on the grounds they violated sovereignty and conducted an operation without government authorization.
A grenade was thrown at the jeep, killing the three-man crew. The C-130H was blown apart by the National Guard’s 106 mm anti-tank gun (it is not clear why they had brought in this weapon since the terrorists could have been confronted with small arms). Three of the crew were killed, but the Cypriot chief of police escaped unhurt. The fight lasted for almost an hour. In was an intense engagement. Kyprianou, who remained in the control tower, had to take shelter since the Egyptians fired at the windows. The commandos took cover behind two airliners and continued firing. An Arab Wings airliner and another of Cyprus Airways aircraft received hits; the DC-8 was riddled with bullets, but no one inside was wounded. At a certain point an unarmed Palestinian of the PLO mission ran on the tarmac, shouting hysterically at both sides to stop fighting. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) assumed that “the National Guard were not given precise orders and once the firing started everyone blaze away.” The CIA estimated that “an apparent breakdown in communication between Cyprus and Egypt led Cypriot troops to fire” on the Egyptian commandos. While the fighting was going on, Kurt Waldheim, the UN secretary general, attempted to mediate over the phone with Kyprianou.
Eventually the commandos, who counted 15 dead and 16 wounded, surrendered. The two hijackers were persuaded by the British pilots to give up. The hostages exited the aircraft once the shooting was over. The Cypriots counted eight wounded. The angry Sadat (who wanted an anti-terrorist triumph on foreign soil and ended up with a fiasco) talked in public of “treason,” blamed Kyprianou, and curtailed diplomatic relations. Syria and Libya sided with Cyprus, and the Soviet press blamed Sadat. The Izvestia (February 23) claimed that “the Egyptian soldiers were the victims of the irresponsible behaviour of their government, which had violated the norms of international law.” The Yugoslav government was asked by Kyprianou to mediate with Egypt. The Yugoslav undersecretary for foreign affairs assessed that Sadat “seemed to be emotionally involved,” upset at the murder of his friend Sebai. The president of Egypt “seemed to be in an unstable frame of mind, the Afghan president who was in Yugoslavia, had just had a message cancelling his visit to Egypt,” remarked the undersecretary.
In addition, a false story of a Cypriot constable shooting a wounded Egyptian soldier after surrender increased tension further. The Cypriot government took legal action against John Bierman, the Reuters correspondent, who eventually apologized after mediation by the British high commission and the Reuters Ankara correspondent.
In a phone conversation with Lord Mountbatten, Sadat claimed that he himself “could not understand” the Cypriot response, asking rhetorically “how could the arrival of sixty Egyptian soldiers constitute an aggression against the sovereignty of Cyprus?” Most significantly, Sadat threatened to recognize an international status for the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus under President Rauf Denktash. For the time being, the Turkish leader “refrained from his habitual provocative comments” toward Nicosia but was happy about Sadat’s anger towards the Greek-Cypriots. The two hijackers were condemned to capital punishment by a Cypriot court, but the anxious Kyprianou, who wanted to avoid any of accusations by anti-Sadat Arab organizations, commuted the sentence. Since diplomatic staffs had been withdrawn from the respective capitals, Nicosia asked the UK embassy in Cairo to represent Cypriot interests. The Romanian mission on Cyprus made a similar agreement with the Egyptians. Britain could make representations on behalf of Cyprus according to diplomatic practice, but in case Sadat attempted to recognize fully the Turkish Federated State, British diplomacy should not give the impression of backing Cyprus.
A PLO representative visited the UK embassy in Beirut, presenting the organization’s position on the Larnaca episode. The mission authorized by Arafat did not carry arms and sought the liberation of the PLO members held hostage. If called they would assist the Cypriot government in negotiations and “arrest the killers if they did not surrender to the Cyprus government.” They would also investigate the background of the assailants. Regarding the incident of the Egyptian defense attaché trying to approach the airplane, the PLO stated that the officer “tried to open fire on a kidnapper but was prevented by police.” Three PLO members stayed with Kyprianou at the control tower while others remained at an airport hall. The majority of the PLO fighters stayed at a hotel. Meanwhile, two Palestinians of the PLO established communication with the Egyptians so as to deter any action. Other Arab diplomats warned the Egyptians against taking action while the Cyprus government handled the negotiation. The PLO mission would have received arms from the Cypriots in case of a rescue operation: “we were envisaging the possibility of such an action, but short of a direct military attack which would have led to the killing of all the hostages.” In any case, the FCO wished for the continuation of communication with the PLO since “we do depend to a large extent upon the goodwill and cooperation of the PLO for the safety of the members of our Beirut Embassy Staff. HM Ambassador stresses the need to retain the cooperation of Fatah… he must be right on this although he perhaps overstates the wider advantages of cooperation with them.”
Prime Minister James Callaghan authored a letter to Sadat expressing sympathy for the assassination of Sebai. At the cabinet meeting of February 23, 1978, David Owen, the foreign secretary, referred to the Rejectionist Front as being responsible for the murder of the Egyptian editor. This terrorist group aimed to subvert Sadat’s peace initiatives with Israel. It was argued that at the international diplomacy level the outcome of the Larnaca gunfight would make some countries less keen to allow foreign antiterrorist missions on their soil in the future. There was also a reference to plans made after the Entebbe incident for the Special Air Service to undertake antiterrorist operations in another country after the authorization of the local government. The FCO assessed that it was a controversial decision for Lyssarides to undertake negotiations since it was well-known that he retained contacts with Fatah and other extreme Palestinian groups. Besides, he held no office in the Cyprus government. The countries that did not permit the landing of the DC-8 worried about Egyptian reactions and aimed to show intent for cooperation in confronting international terrorism.
The Egyptian commandos were duly deported via the Akrotiki base and not charged under Cypriot law. The UK MoD was asked by Cairo for help in recovering the wreckage of the C-130H; eventually it was moved to the Akrotiri base. Colonel CW Huxley, the UK defense advisor of the High Commission, remarked in his annual report on the Larnaca battle:
Neither the Cypriots nor the Egyptians emerged with much credit from the affair, though it is probably true to say that outside Egypt there is little sympathy for their action and a feeling that if they didn’t deserve the awful slaughter their commandos received, at least they were taking a dreadful risk in having a shoot out in someone elses (sic) country. And there is little doubt that whoever threw the grenade that destroyed the Egyptian jeep, thereby stopping the troops in it from firing, saved the lives of not only the hostages, but also the two British pilots—all of whom were likely to have been hit by the next burst of machinegun fire, as the bullet-ridden fuselage of the Cyprus Airways 707 bore witness… One outcome of the affair which is important to all of us is that the Cyprus government has at last been provoked into implementing far stricter security measures at the airport.
Greece, under Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis, remained cautious and detached, not stating clearly their view of Kyprianou’s decision to order the National Guard to open fire at the commandos. In his February 21 statement Karamanlis expressed his sorrow for the developments in the Cypriot-Egyptian relations, countries bound by traditional friendship, claiming that “it is obvious that both governments were involved in an adventure that was the repercussion of events out of their control. No hostile intentions should be assigned to them. I hope and pray that after the justified excitements caused by the Larnaca events, more calm thought would prevail, leading to the resolution of misunderstandings.” At this point, it is useful to refer to the contemporary terrorist threat Greece faced; post-junta, the Greek security services were investigating ultra-right-wing terrorism and the coming of ultra-left/anarchist terrorism in the form of groups like 17 November. Despite serious incidents of Arab terrorism and the discovery of arms caches with explosives, the security services did not seem to be focusing on the Arab threat. DJM Dain of the British embassy in Athens was critical enough, arguing that:
In any event there is little sign that they [Greek security services] are pursuing the enquiries [for the murder of a Lebanese and the discovery of arms caches in August] with much vigour. This comparative complacency of the Greek authorities as regards the Arab terrorist threat is worrying. Distances within the Eastern Mediterranean are short and airport and other security fairly lax. There is much coming and going between here and the Lebanon and Cyprus, which is now an established base for Arab terrorists…. We have heard that the Greek authorities have reason to suspect the existence of other caches of arms and explosives. The danger of Arab terrorist attack upon purely Greek targets within Greece is probably not all that high…. Greece’s stance on Arab/Israel questions tends to favour the Arab point of view…. The fairly casual attitude of the security authorities does however, mean that Greece, and particularly Athens, might be regarded as a good theatre for operations by Arab terrorists for either settling scores amongst themselves…or attacking Western targets.
For his part, Kyprianou feared Sadat’s vengeance. Georgios Pelaghias, the director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “somewhat depressed and worried,” feared Egyptian plans. “Rumors had it that an Egyptian commando force in North Cyprus might attempt to snatch the hijackers from the central prison in which they were being held pending trial. The Egyptian attaché asked permission to remain on the island “on pretty insubstantial grounds,” as assumed by Pelaghias. Moreover, 31 Egyptian mechanics, “an excessive number,” came in to dismantle the wreckage of the C-130H. All these men could have been up to something since there was information that a large cache of arms was kept at the Egyptian embassy. The British high commission was aware of rumors coming from a Beirut news agency; it seemed that a Palestinian source quoted the story of a coming operation from an Iraqi source. In any case, Pelaghias was reassured by the high commission that a commando operation to get the hijackers would need the help of Turkish-Cypriot leader Denktash and thus of Ankara. Turkish Prime Minister Bülent Eçevit would not do anything that could damage the intercommunal talks set to start the next month and thus cause an American reaction. Pelaghias accepted this argument but sited “confirmation of the story [of commandos intending to storm the prison] from Arab sources here.” He avoided specifics, adding that “the country [that gave this intelligence] had since spoken in strong terms to Eçevit in Ankara discouraging any such venture” of Turkish aid to the Egyptians.
Additional intelligence alarmed Kyprianou. On March 4, 1978, Christophides, the foreign secretary, told the high commission that secret intelligence received from an unnamed country revealed Sadat’s order to his secret service “to make arrangement for the deposition or assassination” of Kyprianou and the assassination of Lyssarides. A Greek-Cypriot evening newspaper disclosed a plan to poison Kyprianou because of his intransigence in the negotiations with the Turkish-Cypriots. The Cypriot government informed the American, French, and Yugoslav governments of the intelligence of Sadat’s order. Six days later London replied that British intelligence had no information corroborating the claim of assassinations ordered by Sadat. IS Winchester of the Southern European Department of the FCO commented of this being “another instance of extreme Cypriot nervousness similar to their unfounded [earlier] claim the Egyptian Navy was about to invade Cyprus.” It is certain that some kind of false intelligence games were played, as Kyprianou (who desperately wanted to keep the balance with extremist Arab groups) feared Egypt’s intent. On several occasions in talks with British diplomats the president complained of being deceived by the Egyptian government during the hostage crisis but was willing to work towards the improvement of relations with Cairo. On March 8, 1978, Alecos Michaelides, the president of the House of Representatives, flew to Cairo to consult with the Egyptian government.
The capital sentence of the terrorists by the Cypriot court would not lead to their execution as Sadat demanded, arguing that it would deter new terrorist attacks. Pelaghias wanted Iraq to influence the Arabs, not to plan anything on Cyprus. He believed that commuting the sentence to 20 years’ imprisonment in “very lenient conditions” would appease the extremist groups. He cryptically told the British that “the Iraqis for their part would give an undertaking that there would be no attempt to release them by force…then after five years or a bit more, the Cypriots would take some convenient opportunity to grant an amnesty.” It seems that throughout the summer of 1978 some Cypriot ministers and security officials continued to fear an Arab operation to snatch the prisoners. However, this scheme involving Iraq did not materialize.
Kyprianou stalled without proceeding to the execution. He aimed to appease Sadat and the extreme Arab groups at the same time. As the British high commission reported, “Kyprianou’s dilemma is that as long as the murderers remain in custody the chances of a terrorist incident to secure their release remains.” It was evident that Middle Eastern sources planted rumors to make the Cyprus government be afraid. When the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment Egypt recognized the new sentence but pressed for the transfer of the hijackers to an Egyptian prison. Allegedly, on hearing Cypriot doubt over the phone that the hijackers might be executed once transferred to his country, Sadat shouted: “do they [the Cypriots] take me for a brigand?” The president of Egypt threatened to recognize Denktash as the president of the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus and to turn against Cypriot interests in Egypt. The Turks were happy enough asking for the “the maximum recognition possible.” At a press conference on May 30, 1978, in Cairo, Sadat declared that “we consider him [Kyprianou] to be the president of the Greek-Cypriots alone.” However, Greek diplomacy remained calm, informing the British that a “good authority” in Egypt maintained that the Egyptian government would not go further than threatening. The Greeks were right. Sadat did not upset the intercommunal talks. TLA Daunt of the Southern Department at the FCO wrongly argued that “it may be no bad thing for the Cyprus government to see that ‘creeping recognition’ of the TFSC [Turkish Federated State of Cyprus] is a very real factor, providing an incentive for them actively to seek a settlement.”
The British, representing Cypriot interests in Egypt, did not intervene in favor of Nicosia to persuade Sadat not to act against Nicosia. In British eyes:
…the Cyprus government, as they demonstrated at Larnaca [episode], evidently attach[es] more importance to good relations with the Palestinians and the Arab states opposed to the Camp David agreements than to their relations with Egypt and the moderate Arab states. I [TLA Daunt] see little reason to encourage the Cyprus government to believe that they can escape the consequences of such policies by getting their Western friends to take up the cudgels on their behalf.
High Commissioner Gordon remarked that “if forced to choose between two evils, they [the Cypriots] may reluctantly decide that the lesser damage to their interests is likely to be done by continuing to refuse to hand over the two men to the Egyptians.” Similarly, the Americans were not willing to talk to Sadat on behalf of Nicosia. They rejected a Cypriot request to convince Sadat not to press further for the extradition of the two hijackers. Washington pressed the Egyptians to keep the assassins of American diplomats in Khartoum in prison so “they could not have two policies on the subject.” Eventually, the hijackers were extradited to Egypt in 1984. After Sadat’s murder, Kyprianou intensified his efforts in improving relations with Cairo, though he did not apologize for the Cypriot response against the Egyptian commandos for violating sovereignty.
Ultimately Sadat proved unwilling to upset the post-1974 Greek-Turkish balance on the island by recognizing Denktash’s small “federated state.” It was evident that Middle Eastern terrorism and hostage crises would have a direct impact on the relations of sovereign states in the region. Secrecy and deception imposed by Cairo while the C-130H was en route to Larnaca had unimaginable repercussions for Sadat and his commandos. Of course, a large share of blame rests on the commander of the antiterrorist group who wrongly assumed that he could act alone without regard to the Cypriot authorities and president, who himself surveyed the delicate negotiation. Task Force 777 was also responsible for kidnapping the chief of police for a while. Anti-Sadat/Camp David countries like Syria and Libya sided with Cyprus, serving their own foreign policy agendas. As this article showed, from the British perspective Kyprianou walked a tightrope, seeking to reconcile two opposing plans—to appease Sadat as well as to keep a check on extreme Arab groups’ intentions in case they planned future terrorist attacks on Cyprus.
*Panagiotis Dimitrakis is a historian specializing in Cold War history, strategy, and diplomacy. He obtained his PhD in War Studies at King’s College London and he is the author of Military Intelligence in Cyprus: From the Great War to Middle East Crises (London: Tauris Academic Studies, forthcoming March 2010); Greek Military Intelligence and the Crescent–Estimating the Turkish Threat: Crises, Leadership and Strategic Analyses, 1974-1996 (Plymouth: University of Plymouth Press, forthcoming 2009); Greece and the English: British Diplomacy and the Kings of Greece (London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2009).
 CIO’s brief to the Defence and External Affairs Sub-Committee on Expenditure, November 23, 1975, pp. 3-4, DEFE 68/90 The National Archives (TNA) Kew, London.
 US Embassy (Nicosia) to State Department, May 15, 1975, http://aad.archives.gov/aad/createpdf?rid=88459&dt=1822&dl=823 (accessed January 10, 2009).
 “The Assassination of Yusef Sebai and the Egyptian Commando Action at Larnaca Airport,” March 1, 1978, pp. 1-4, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 Ibid., pp. 8-9.
 “Diary of Events in Nicosia and at Larnaca Airport on 18 and 19 February 1978,” p. 3, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 Ibid. p. 4.
 Ibid., p. 5.
 Ibid., p. 6.
 Ibid., pp. 5-7.
 Ibid., p. 7.
 “The Assassination of Yusef Sebai,” pp. 7-8.
 Ibid., pp. 4-7; British embassy (Beirut) to FCO, February 27, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “The Assassination of Yusef Sebai,” p. 8.
 International Terrorism in 1978- A Research Paper, CIA/National Foreign Assessment Center, March 1979, http://www.terrorisminfo.mipt.org/pdf/1978PoGT.pdf (accessed January 19, 2009).
 “Band to Bone,” March 1, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Scott to Tomkyns,” March 2, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “The John Bierman Affair, Lockhart to FCO,” February 27, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Morris to FCO,” March 6, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Marden to FCO,” February 28, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Murder and Massacre on Cyprus,” Time, March 9, 1978.
 “Owen to Gordon,” December 11, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Wakefield to FCO,” March 1, 1978, pp. 1-3, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Arab Terrorists Detained in London, Secret-UK Eyes Alpha,” August 14, 1978, FCO 93/1344 TNA.
 “Conclusions of a Meeting of the Cabinet,” February 23, 1978, Secret, p. 1, CAB 128/63/7 TNA.
 “FCO to UK Mission (New York),” March 2, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “DSB to Short,” April 14, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Huxley to Secretary of the Chiefs of Staff Committee,” Annual Report—Defence, Military and Air Adviser Nicosia, May 31, 1978, p. 10, FCO 9/2731 TNA.
 Constantinos Karamanlis—Arheio: Gegonota kai Keimena, [Constantine Karamanlis—Archive: Events and Texts], Vol. 10, (Athens: Karanlis Foundation/Kathimerini, 2005), p. 129.
 See George Kassimeris, Europe’s Last Red Terrorists: The Revolutionary Organization 17 November (London: Hurst 2000).
 “Arab Terrorism in Athens, Dain to Coltman,” September 12, 1978, FCO 93/1344 TNA.
 “Gordon to FCO,” March 2, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Gordon to FCO,” March 5, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Winchester to Sutherland,” March 10, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Gordon to FCO,” March 3, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Gordon to FCO,” March 9, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Murder of El Sebai,” August 2, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Brown to FCO,” September 30, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Morris to FCO,” December 30, 1978, p. 3, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Brown to Short,” June 8, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Barrington to FCO,” December 15, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Daunt to Fergusson,” Dec 5, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Gordon to FCO,” December 30, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.
 “Morris to FCO,” December 28, 1978, FCO 9/2730 TNA.