Hijacked Passengers Wait to See Iraqi Minister before Going Home
The passengers and crew of a Saudi Boeing 777 hijacked to Baghdad Saturday had to wait Sunday in a hotel to meet Iraq's Transport Minister Ahmad Murtada before flying out.
"We are waiting for a meeting with the transport minister, according to what we were told," pilot Tareq Taeib told AFP at the Al-Rashid hotel.
"After the meeting we will leave for Saudi Arabia and then take another flight to London," he said.
Taieb and the 103 others hijacked aboard the Saudi Arabian Airlines flight from Jeddah to London on Saturday spent the night at the city center hotel.
He said the hijackers were armed but refused to say anything about their identity, presented by the Iraqi authorities as two Saudis, or what arms they carried.
"We have received orders from Saudi Airlines not to talk about them," he explained.
An Iraqi official said the plane would take off from Saddam International airport about midday (0900 GMT).
Murtada had already visited the passengers in the hotel overnight.
The hijackers surrendered without a fight to Iraqi authorities after the plane landed late Saturday, leaving all the 104 people aboard to walk free and unharmed.
But they then told journalists they still had a bomb on the plane that the affair was not over and they still wanted to "negotiate".
They called for an inquiry into human rights abuses in Riyadh, slammed the regime as being under US hegemony, and, according to some reports, requested political asylum.
"I have a detonator in my pocket, which I can activate to trigger a bomb placed on the plane," one of the two, circled by Iraqi police but looking relaxed, said at Baghdad's Saddam International Airport.
However the passengers had been unaware of any drama.
"We did not realize there had been a hijacking until the pilot told us that we had landed at Saddam International airport in Baghdad," said Yussef Selim, a 50-year-old Saudi – BAGHDAD (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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