Aircraft Piracy Outside the Special
Aircraft Jurisdiction of the United States49 U.S.C.
In order to fully implement the Hague Convention for the
Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, the Antihijacking Act
of 1974 (Pub. L. 93-366) created a new provision (former 49 U.S.C.
App. § 1472(n)) whereby persons who commit acts of air piracy
outside the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United
States may be punished if they are subsequently found in the United
Prior to 1996, the only limitation to this provision was that
the place of take-off or actual landing of the aircraft on which
the prohibited act was committed must have been outside the
territory of the state of registration of that aircraft. The
effect of the limitation was to exclude prosecution in the United
States of a hijacker who should more properly be prosecuted in the
country of the aircraft's registration. On April 24, 1996, the
limitation was removed by section 721(a) of the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat.
1214, 1298, because it was determined to be a misreading of the
Hague Convention. See 141 Cong. Rec. S 2517-18 (daily ed.
Feb. 10, 1995). See also this Manual at 1404.
Section 721(a) of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty
Act of 1996, supra, also expanded the extraterritorial scope
of § 46502(b) of Title 49 to cover any hijacking of a foreign
civil aircraft (which is outside the special aircraft jurisdiction
of the United States) when (1) a national of the United States is
a perpetrator of the offense or (2) a national of the United States
is on such aircraft. Section 46502(b) continues to cover those
extraterritorial hijackings of foreign civil aircraft not involving
a national of the United States when the offender is subsequently
"found" in the United States.
The extraterritorial jurisdiction of §46502(b) has been
upheld by the courts when the defendant was subsequently "found" in
the United States following his forcible rendition. See
United States v. Yunis, 681 F.Supp 896 (D.D.C. 1988),
aff'd, United States v. Yunis, 924 F.2d 1086 (D.C.
Cir. 1991). See also United States v. Rezaq, 134
F.3d 1121, 1130-33 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (government did not unlawfully
manufacture jurisdictional element that defendant be "found in the
United States" when it forcibly brought the defendant to the United
[updated August 1999] [cited in USAM 9-63.100]