Here is some background on the hijackers of the Kuwait Airways jetliner:
WHO THEY ARE No identities have been disclosed. Arabs listening to radio conversations between three of the hijackers and the Larnaca Airport control tower say their accents indicate that two are Lebanese, who recite from the Koran, Islam's holy book, with Iranian inflections, and one is an Iraqi.There appears to be between five and seven Arab hijackers. Bahrain authorities say the Bahraini passports carried by five people in boarding the jumbo jetliner are forgeries.
WHAT THEY WANT The hijackers main demand is the release of 17 terrorists, imprisoned in Kuwait for bombing the U.S. and French embassies there in 1983. This is the same demand made by the pro-Iranian Shiite Moslem Islamic Jihad, which is holding American and French hostages in Lebanon. All but one of the 17 terrorists in Kuwait are Shiite Moslems. Three have been sentenced to death.
THEIR LINKS WITH LEBANON Two of the pro-Iranian, extremist Shiite groups in Lebanon have threatened to kill hostages they hold if the hijacked plane is stormed. Islamic Jihad threatened to kill two Americans, Terry Anderson, The Associated Press' chief Middle East Correspondent, and educator Thomas Sutherland, along with at least three French captives journalist Jean-Paul Kauffman and diplomats Marcel Carton and Marcel Fontaine. The Shiite Organization of the Oppressed on Earth threatened to kill U.S. Marine Lt. Col William R. Higgins, kidnapped while serving with a U.N. observer group in south Lebanon.
The hijackers flew to Beirut on Friday, but Syrian forces controlling the airport refused to let them land and the plane went to Cyprus.
THE IRAN CONNECTION The hijackers appear to be Shiite Moslems, like most of Iran's 50 million people and its revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The plane was initially forced to land in northeast Iran.