Hijackers of Saudia Plane Protest Internal Situation in Saudi Arabia
An Iraqi official told reporters at Baghdad airport that the hijackers of the Saudi plane “have demands” regarding the internal situation in the kingdom.
Taher Hboush, an official at the Iraqi interior ministry, said at a briefing monitored on Al Jazira TV channel that during the initial contacts with one of the hijackers, “he accused Amnesty International of receiving bribes to hush up over what is taking place in Saudi Arabia, which is dominated by the US, while the Saudi people are helpless regarding that.”
The official quoted the mastermind of the hijack as saying they headed for Iraq because “it is a country that refuses to be under the American domination.”
The hijacker threatened that “there will be another operation if their demands are not met.”
Hboush said that he had initial information that the hijackers are Saudis, “but this is not confirmed,” he said, adding they were four.
According to the official, the hijackers have demanded that they negotiate with Saudi officials, but the Iraqis “would go on with negotiations and do their duty without waiting for a representative from Saudi Arabia.”
But the Iraqis told them that “this would take a long time, a matter which would harm the passengers” on board the plane.
Hboush confirmed that the hijackers had threatened to “explode the plane,” if their demands are not met.
A previous report by Al Jazira said that four Saudis and an Ethiopian hijacked the Saudia airlines plane en route from Jeddah to London and that they sought asylum in Iraq.
The station had quoted Saudi Prince Fahd bin Abdullah, Assistant Minister of Aviation, as saying a Saudi royal family member was aboard the Boeing 777, among 111 passengers, including 16 crew.
AFP reported that the number is 90, including 40 Britons, one American, 15 Saudis, 15 Pakistanis, four South Africans, four Yemenis and two Kenyans.
The passenger list included also one French, an Indian, an Omani, one Lebanese, a Nigerian, a Palestinian, a Spaniard, a Swede and a Swiss national, said the agency.
Quoting Saudi officials, Abu Dhabi satellite channel reported that the hijackers threatened to blast the plane if they were not given permission to land in Baghdad airport.
AFP reported earlier that the plane was circling above Damascus airport, and had not been given permission to land, a Syrian airport official said.
However, Al Jazira correspondent in Damascus said that the permission had been given, but the captain of the plane told the tower of a change in the plan.
The plane was hijacked Saturday afternoon, and flown toward Damascus as it left Egyptian airspace on Saturday, Cairo airport said, according to AFP.
“Saudia flight 115 from Jeddah to London told the control tower about the emergency, just after leaving Egyptian airspace at 2:55 p.m. (1255 GMT) local,” an Egypt civil aviation official told Reuters, adding that “the hijackers demanded that they go to Damascus.”
The official said the plane had entered Greek airspace, but that the pilot had radioed the Cairo control tower, according to Reuters.
He said radio contact with the plane was lost after that.
Al-Jazira TV channel said that the plane was carrying 300 passengers – (Several Sources)
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