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“The Assault” / L’Assaut, French film about the Hijacking of Air France flight in 1994

The GIGN’s biggest rescue operation that needs to be told.

The Assault, L’Assault movie poster, courtesy of Mars films

You guessed right, after writing a review of “15 Minutes of War” I was only going to probe the biggest rescue operation of GIGN, the 1994 rescue operation of the Air France flight hijacked by terrorists. Lucky for me there was even a movie made of the incident.

Buried by action films from Hollywood here is another gem, this one from 2010. Step aside the innumerable Airport movies, Air Force One and all such similar movies because they are all pure fiction but what is shown in L’Assault is in fact, what actually happened.

On 24'th of December 1994, Air France flight 8969 is hijacked by Algerian Islamic Fundamental terrorists. Their objective, apart from the release of their criminal friends incarcerated in prisons was to detonate the plane in Paris over the Eiffel Tower. Once inside the plane they force all women to cover their heads including the cabin crew. The report on Wikipedia says how the terrorists were even trying to convert two ladies to Islam including one from the cabin crew. Bombs are wired throughout the plane and the entire crew, pilots and passengers taken hostage. By the way even the article on Wikipedia about this event is a thrilling read. The link to the report is at the bottom of this post. Terrorists are shown praying, reading lines for the dead from the Quran, what nonsense! In cold blood three passengers are assassinated to meet their demands.

The film is interspersed with real footage of the actual bombarding of the place which is so intense. The 2 odd minute YouTube video itself is so dramatic with live footage of the co-pilot jumping out of the window. In fact he would have had a serious concussion had his head landed on the ground, instead he fractures his elbow in the 16 ft fall. The firing by the terrorists even sets of an explosive carried by one of the GIGN members who is sent crashing down the airstairs. One can imagine the state of the observers and relatives of the GIGN, monitoring the operation on TV, in those 22 minutes. Amidst the incessant shooting, grenade throwing and sheet panic and terror the GIGN help the passengers and crew evacuate the plane. Finally the flight engineer had to scream over the radio to let the authorities know that all the terrorists have been killed and to cease fire immediately. The pilot had already taken bullets but not life-threatening damage. In fact the flight engineer in the actual story is handcuffed being mistaken for an unarmed terrorist. An interesting point to know is that the Airbus plane could have its doors opened from the outside.

A highly recommended film. Go for it! YouTube has a free complete version for viewing but the language is in French and German only.

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Subash Sarath Lakshmi

Software Programmer turned Technical Writer, Writer, Blogger, Trainer, spiritual seeker tyring to better my life and the lives of others via my writings.