Iraqi Hijacks Qatari Jet to Saudi Arabia and Surrenders
An Iraqi armed with a knife hijacked a Qatar Airways Airbus with 144 people on board on Thursday and forced it to land in Saudi Arabia where he gave himself up without a fight, officials said.
"The hijacker surrendered but did not make any demands," a Qatar Airways legal adviser said.
"The hijacking is over and the Saudi police is in full control of the situation," Jaafar Mohammad Abdel Rahim told Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite television.
He had forced his way into the cockpit 45 minutes after take-off from Doha and, wielding a "big knife", ordered the pilot to divert to Hael, an agricultural center, Al-Jazeera reported.
The unnamed Iraqi put up no resistance after the Airbus, scheduled to go to Amman, landed at Hael airport, 700 kilometers (450 miles) north of the Saudi capital Riyadh.
The 133 passengers and 11 crew were "safe and sound", Abdel Rahim said.
"The plane was beginning its descent to Amman when the pilot announced that we would have to land in Hael," about halfway between Doha and Amman, a passenger told the channel live via a mobile telephone.
"Before getting permission to land in Hael the plane flew around for 25 to 30 minutes," he said. The town's airport normally takes only domestic Saudi flights.
"Senior Saudi security officials came on board and the hijacker gave himself up and took him away," the passenger said.
All the passengers disembarked and were waiting at the small Hael airport for clearance to go to Amman as darkness fell, the passenger said. The flight originated in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Iraqis, Jordanians, Palestinians and citizens from the Gulf states were among the passengers.
Qatar Airways was coordinating with the Saudi authorities and would publish an official statement on the hijacking later, the adviser said.
The official Qatari news agency QNA also published the television scoop – DOHA (AFP)
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