Continued from page 1

However, Malta is no restive Arab nation with terrorists lurking in the shadows of markets and mosques.

Malta has about 400,000 residents living in an area about twice the size of Washington, D.C. Ninety-six percent of Maltese are Roman Catholic.

About 3,000 Muslims live on Malta, but only about a quarter are Maltese citizens.

The last time Malta had a brush with Islamic terrorism was in 1985 when Palestinian hijackers landed an EgyptAir jetliner at the island’s airport. But Malta was not their intended destination.

The Adu Nidal terrorists commandeered the plane on a flight from Athens to Cairo. A shortage of fuel forced them to land on Malta, where authorities in a standoff with the hijackers eventually called on Egyptian commandos who stormed the plane. Most of the 87 passengers and crew died in the ensuing gunbattle.

Malta is aware that its strategic location off the coast of Sicily makes it a tempting transit point for terrorists from North Africa trying to sneak into Europe.

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at or @EmbassyRow.