Monday, November 18, 2002
Hijacker of El Al Tel-Aviv-Istanbul flight overpowered
ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - Security guards on Israel's national airline El Al overpowered a man Sunday who tried to hijack a flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul, an airport official said.
None of the 170 passengers on board the Boeing 757 was harmed and the plane landed safely, said Oktay Cakirlar, an official at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport.
The semi-offficial Anatolia news agency identified the hijacker as a 23-year-old Israeli Arab, Tawfiq Fukra.
Cakirlar said El Al Flight 581 sent out a hijacking signal as it approached Istanbul and the suspect was overcome.
"No one was injured,'' Cakirlar told The Associated Press by telephone.
"The terrorist is in custody at the police station at the airport.''
Turkey's private CNN-Turk and NTV televisions quoted police sources as saying that the suspected hijacker was armed with a knife.
The television reports said the man was overpowered by two Israeli security guards aboard the plane.
He reportedly first threatened a flight attendant with a knife and tried to approach the cockpit but was overpowered by two security guards, one posing as a passenger, CNN-Turk television said.
The suspect was being held at the airport police station.
"We heard people saying there was fighting and half a minute later it became clear that from row five or six a man ran amok toward the pilot's cabin, attacked a stewardess and tried to enter the cockpit,'' Israeli passenger Menachen Binet told Israel army radio.
"We saw a stewardess running like crazy from the front of the place to the business section... She was terrified,'' Binet said.
"They laid him down on the floor, with his legs spread and his face on the floor. The passengers were hysterical, they (cabin staff) calmed us down, the captain calmed us down and, thank God, it all ended well.''
At the airport, passengers could be seen going through security checks, where they were frisked, and passport control.
Relatives of passengers huddled at the airport.
"My mother called me and she said 'we landed' but she did not mention the incident at all,'' said Sela Anah as she waited for her mother, Suzan Natan. "My mom sounded fine.''
El Al is widely regarded as the best protected airline in the world, but also one of the most threatened. From the late 1960s into the 1980s, El Al planes and passengers were subjected to shooting attacks, hijacking and bombing attempts.
El Al's formidable security includes armed guards at check-in, on-board marshals and extensive searches of luggage. Passengers are told to arrive three hours ahead of flights to allow enough time for the security checks.
On the Fourth of July, an Egyptian immigrant, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, opened fire at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles Airport, killing two people before he was shot dead by an airline security guard.
Nothing was found to link the incident to terrorist groups and the motive remained unknown.
Hadayet, however, had previously told U.S. authorities that he was falsely accused of being in a militant Egyptian group that the United States now lists as a terror group. - AP
Nov 18th, 2002, 02:20 AM
The Boeing 757 on the ground in Istanbul after a foiled hijacking attempt
Guards foil hijacking of El Al jet by Israeli Arab over Turkey
By israelinsider staff November 18, 2002
Twenty minutes before landing, an Israeli Arab hijacker tried to stab a flight attendant with a pocket knife and storm the cockpit. He was overpowered by El Al security guards, who wrestled him to the floor. Flight 581 from Tel Aviv to Istanbul, a Boeing 757, had 170 passengers. None were hurt and the plane landed safely.
"A man ran amok towards the pilot's cabin, attacked a stewardess and tried to enter the cockpit," an Israeli passenger on the plane told Army Radio.
"We saw a stewardess running like crazy from the front of the place to the business section...she was completely pale, hysterical," said the passenger, Menachem Binat, a journalist from Bnei Brak. Security guards grabbed the would-be hijacker, "threw him to the floor with his legs spread and his face to the floor. The passengers were hysterical but the flight attendants were very cool, they calmed us down", he said.
The attacker was identified as Tewfik Foudra, 23, an Arab with Israeli citizenship. It was unclear how he managed to smuggle aboard a pocket knife. Ben-Gurion Airport was shut down to assess the security breach, and then reopened a short time later.
Gabi Ophir, Director-General of the Israel Airports Authority, launched an investigation to determine how the attacker apparently managed to smuggle a pocketknife past the ground security guards. Amos Shapira, Director-General of El Al, called to congratulate personally the inflight security guards who foiled the attack.
Passengers were delayed for an hour on the ground in Istanbul, as security personnel screened them to ensure that there were no additional terrorists aboard. The failed hijacker was interrogated on the ground by Turkish and Israeli security officials.
Gonzo Hates Me!
Nov 18th, 2002, 02:30 AM
omigod, that would be such a scary, perplexing icident. I would be thanking the divine spirits everyday if I had been a passenger
Nov 18th, 2002, 02:31 AM
Why land? Just open a hatch and toss him out.
Nov 18th, 2002, 01:36 PM
Nov. 18, 2002
Turkish TV: suspected El Al hijacker wanted to crash plane into Tel Aviv building
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ISTANBUL, Turkey - A suspected hijacker who tried to take over a flight of Israel's national airline reportedly told Turkish interrogators Monday that he wanted to divert the plane back to Tel Aviv and crash it into a building in a September 11-like attack, Turkey's private NTV television reported.
Security guards aboard the airliner on Sunday overpowered the man, who apparently was armed with a pocket knife and threatened a stewardess. None of the 170 passengers on board the Boeing 757 was harmed, and the plane landed safely.
The NTV report could not be verified independently.
The suspect, identified by the semi-official Anatolia news agency as a 23-year-old Israeli Arab, Tawfiq Fukra, was being questioned by anti-terrorism squads in Istanbul.
Anatolia quoted Fukra as telling interrogators he had "carried out the action to protest Israel." He said he chose the El Al flight to Istanbul because it was relatively cheap, Anatolia reported.
Nov 18th, 2002, 01:43 PM
That is the airline to fly! They don't screw around.
Nov 18th, 2002, 01:47 PM
you may have said that jokingly, but it's true. I used to fly with other airlines, but now I find their security arrangements unsatisfactory.
Nov 18th, 2002, 01:54 PM
I was not joking in the least. If I had to fly anywhere in the Middle East, this would be the airline. In fact, if I could fly them overseas from the U.S., I would but I am not in the traveling mood at the moment.
Nov 18th, 2002, 01:59 PM
Well I don't think El Al flies to every country in the Middle East, I don't think they are allowed to land in certain Arab countries, or am I wrong?
Yeah El Al is probably the safest airline out there but then again, they have to be if you're under constant threat of terrorists.
Nov 18th, 2002, 02:23 PM
but now, after sep 11th, I don't think El-Al is more of a target than any other airline. in fact, "real" terrorists (not yesterday's clown) are more likely to not even try to mess with El-Al, it's so much harder than with other airlines.
you are right though, that El-Al is not allowed in some Arab states. but it gets to everywhere else in the world, and I'm pretty sure HL is not looking for a vacation in Iran:-).
Nov 18th, 2002, 02:49 PM
BTW how do El Al's prices compare to other airlines? I would think they are a bit more expensive because of the security agents that travel with each flight. Or are they paid by the state?
Nov 18th, 2002, 03:09 PM
the prices are the same. El-Al is in a constant state of debt, and the Israeli government is picking the tab. there is always talk about making the company completly private, but it seems a lot less likely after sep.11th. it's a lot harder to argue with the view that it's in the interest of the state of Israel to assure a well secured airline to it's citizens.
Nov 18th, 2002, 03:23 PM
Well privatising El Al would not be a good thing cause private companies always seek profit which would surely go at the expense of safety whereas the state has the safety of its citizens as first priority.
Nov 18th, 2002, 03:29 PM
The US airlines are privatized and they are constantly filing for bankruptcy, going under, merging, and getting federal bailouts.
Nov 18th, 2002, 09:01 PM
I'M GLAD THAT GOT THIS GUY!!
Reports vary on actions of Israeli Arab man on El Al flight to Istanbul
Monday, November 18, 2002
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli authorities said Monday that an Israeli Arab man pushed an El Al flight attendant and was jumped by security agents during a flight to Istanbul, but a Turkish report said the man brandished a knife and tried to hijack the plane and carry out a Sept. 11-style attack on Tel Aviv.
The man was overpowered Sunday on the flight from Tel Aviv and apparently had a pocket knife, but reports varied as to whether he displayed it and tried to break into the cockpit of the Boeing 757. None of the 170 passengers on board was harmed, and the plane landed safely.
The Israeli Airports Authority said Monday that Tawfiq Fukra, 23, was not holding a knife during the encounter with the flight attendant.
"The small knife that the passenger had on his possession was not the reason the security guards acted on the plane," authority spokesman Pini Schiff said in a news release in Tel Aviv. "When the passenger was being overpowered, he was not holding any object in his hand."
Israel Radio reported that Fukra, sitting in the coach section, had entered the business class section twice to ask a flight attendant for water. On the third time, he was told to sit down because the plane was landing. He then pushed the flight attendant and a guard jumped on him, the radio said.
A second guard who helped overpower Fukra noticed he had a small knife in his possession, the radio said.
Turkey's NTV television said Fukra told interrogators he wanted to force the plane to return to Tel Aviv where he intended to crash it into a building. The report could not be verified independently.
Turkey's Anatolia news agency quoted Fukra as telling interrogators he had "carried out the action to protest" against Israel's treatment of Palestinians.
Fukra was questioned by anti-terrorism squads in Istanbul. Israel Radio reported that he would be taken to Israel for questioning by the Shin Bet security service.
An initial investigation showed that the security apparatus at Ben Gurion Airport had operated satisfactorily, Schiff said. But officials were still checking how the suspect managed to get the knife onto the plane.
El Al is widely regarded as the best protected airline in the world, but also one of the most threatened. From the late 1960s into the 1980s, El Al planes and passengers were subjected to shooting attacks, attempted bombings, one successful hijacking and several others that failed.
The successful hijacking was in July 1968, when a flight from Rome was seized by members of the extremist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and forced to land in Algiers. Passengers and crew were held hostage there, with the last of them not released until five months later.
El Al's security includes armed guards at check-in, on-board marshals and extensive luggage searches. Passengers are told to arrive three hours ahead of flights to allow time for the security checks.
In northern Israel, police searched the home of Fukra's father, confiscated a computer and questioned several relatives who were all later released, Israel's Army Radio said.
Earlier, El Al general manager Amos Shapira had said the passenger "tried to reach the cockpit with what we assume now is a small pocket knife."
Army Radio quoted Fukra's father, Salah, as saying his son shouldn't be called a hijacker just because he fought with the flight attendant. He said his son was going to Turkey for a vacation.
Okay Cakirlar, an official at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport, said El Al Flight 581 sent out a hijacking signal as it approached Istanbul, and Fukra was seen being taken away in handcuffs by plainclothes police.
Nehama Snelzo, an Israeli tourist, said the man looked frightened when he was overpowered.
"He seemed to be very scared, he started saying 'I'm going to Istanbul to see a friend, I'm not a threat,"' Snelzo said.
Another passenger, Viv Gulmez, said the man was sitting just in front of her and that he looked suspicious.
"He was going to toilet very often, and once he made a telephone call from the plane," Gulmez told private CNN-Turk television.
Snelzo said after the incident, the flight attendants made an announcement, telling "us not to get scared, to sit down, not to get up and be calm."
Nov 19th, 2002, 04:00 AM
Like I said, instead of charging him, throw him out a hatch from 10000 feet. Fight terror with terror.
Nov 19th, 2002, 04:08 AM
hey disposable, what about his right to a fair trial. (wink)
Nov 19th, 2002, 04:51 AM
Airline security is a joke. X-Ray machines can't detect plastic explosives (Semtex) so if a terrorist wanted to blow up a plane this would be the bomb of choice. Infact this type of bomb was used to blow up Pan Am 103.
I believe El Al hand checks all luggage before it gets on the plane. Now that is security.