Charlotte Klonk
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Distant images
Hostage-takings and aircraft hijackings since the 1960s
in Terror
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In the second half of the twentieth century another form of terror dominated the media: hostage-takings and aircraft hijackings. The images that appeared in the media differed from bomb attacks and explosions in significant ways. Instead of suggesting proximity to the events, portraits of hostages circulated that showed individuals at unknown and distant places. Hence the visual reportage is usually characterised by an uncanny mixture of distance and urgency. Case studies in this chapter range chronologically from the Tupamaros in Uruguay to the RAF in Germany in the 1970s, from the mass hostage-takings in Lebanon in the 1980s to Al Qaida and IS footage of beheadings at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The chapter also includes a discussion of aircraft hijackings in the 1970s. It concludes with a reflection on the particular narratives that hostage-taking and hijackings generate in subsequent autobiographies, films and literature. While at the time of the appearance of the images the fate of the victims is uncertain and highly contested, subsequent stories often provide a happy ending and often blur fact and fiction.

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When images become weapons


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