Wednesday , December 19 2018

Estranged husband, Bolivian preacher and More: Aircraft Hijackings in Last Decade

Hijackings like the Friday of a Libyan plane have become relatively rare since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States have led to increased security.

A picture taken on December 23, 2016 in Valletta, Malta, shows a group of hostages being released from the Afriqiyah Airways A320 after it was hijacked from Libya. A man who said he was armed with a grenade hijacked a Libyan plane which landed on Malta Friday with 118 people on board.

The hijackers who diverted the plane Friday to Malta released everyone on board and surrendered. A Libyan official said the men had applied for asylum, but Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said they had not.

Two men used false weapons to divert a Libyan aircraft with 117 people on board and divert it to Malta. The Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 was en route from Sabha in southern Libya to the capital Tripoli when it was taken over and forced to fly to Malta, causing a dead end four hours of runway.

While they were initially thought to have used a real grenade and at least a pistol to stage the hijacking, it subsequently appeared that the pair was using false weapons, a Maltese government said.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the two men, probably of Libyan nationality, were arrested. Libyan Foreign Minister Taher Siala of the new national unity government said the two were supporters of the dead dictator Moamer Gaddafi, whose death in 2011 plunged Libya into chaos.

Other recent hijackings have been carried out by individuals for reasons ranging from personnel to politics, and almost all have been completed quickly and safely. Examples of the past ten years include:

I wanted to see the ex-wife

A man diverts an EgyptAir flight on 29 March 2016 from Alexandria to Cairo with 55 passengers and crew aboard and forces him to land in Cyprus so he can see his ex-wife.

Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, 58, is described as “psychologically unstable” and claims to have explosives attached to his waist, but gives himself after releasing his fellow travelers.

Asking for asylum

An Ethiopian Airlines flight to Rome with 202 people on board was diverted on 17 February 2014 by its unarmed co-pilot in Geneva where he applied for asylum.

Hailemedehin Abera Tagegn is arrested, but Switzerland refuses an Ethiopian request for extradition.


A man suspected drunk diverts a flight on February 7, 2014 with 110 people aboard the second city of Ukraine Kharkov in Istanbul.

He brandishes what he claims to be a detonator and shouts “Let’s go to Sochi”, Russia, where the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games is underway.

The aircraft is escorted by Turkish F-16 aircraft in Istanbul where anti-terrorist commandos put an end to the incident without any casualties.

Mission Divine to warn Mexico

A Bolivian preacher and a former drug addict diverted an Aeroméxico plane from Cancun to Mexico City on September 9, 2009 with 104 people on board, saying he was on a divine mission.

Presenting boxes of juice filled with sand with colored lights like a bomb, José Marc Flores Pereira goes after the grounds of the plane, with most passengers unaware that they had been taken hostage.

The hijacker said he had to warn Mexico that he was threatened by an earthquake.

Low fuel

A Sun Air flight carrying 95 people from Nyala to Sudan in Khartoum was diverted on 26 August 2008 by two men and land in Kufra, southern Libya, after running out of fuel. Almost a day later, the men surrender and the passengers are released.

Escape from the back

An Egyptian and a Turk who claim to be Al Qaeda members are diverting an Atlasjet flight from Istanbul from the separate Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on August 18, 2007 with 142 people on board and a request to fly to Iran or In Syria.

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The pilots disembark in Antalya, Turkey, to refuel, and while the women and children are freed by the front door, most of the other passengers escape from behind. The rest is released several hours later when the hijackers surrender.

Message to the Pope

A deserter of the disarmed Turkish army, Hakan Ekinci, seized on 3 October 2006 a Turkish Airlines flight carrying 113 people from Tirana to Istanbul. The plane is forced by Greek and Italian jets to land in Brindisi, Italy.

Ekinci had forced his way into the cockpit with a package he said was a bomb, and wanted to send a message to Pope Benedict XVI.

He claims to be a Christian convert and a conscientious objector, and sought to avoid compulsory military service of Turkey.

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