This month marks the second anniversary of the hijacking by Shiite terrorists of TWA Flight 847. The attack resulted in the death of an American serviceman and in 17 tense days for the hostages, including the plane’s pilot, John Testrake, one of three hostages who spent most of their time aboard the grounded plane on Beirut’s war-torn airstrip.
Christians took notice when, in a “press conference” from the airplane’s cockpit on June 19, 1985, Testrake—a terrorist’s gun waving in front of his face—said he wanted his family and friends to know “the Lord has taken very good care of us … He’s seen us through some very trying times, and he’ll see us through to the end.”
Testrake is the author of Triumph Over Terror on Flight 847 (Revell, 1987). He discussed his 17-day ordeal with CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
What did you hope to accomplish in writing a book about your ordeal?
I wanted to tell the complete story of the hijack because it was of such interest to so many Americans. My story is also a testimony. I don’t make any secret of my trust in God. I give him the credit for bringing me through safely.
What were the immediate events that led to the hostage incident?
About two weeks prior to the hijack, Israeli forces withdrew from Lebanon. To guarantee a safe departure, they took over 750 Shiite Muslim hostages, who were supposed to be released when the withdrawal was complete. Instead, they were taken across the border into Galilee and placed in a prison camp. Our hijack was a direct response to that action. The Shiites reasoned that American pressure on Israel would cause the release of their hostages.
Since the crisis, you have spoken against U.S. policy ...1
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