Air West Flight 612


Air West Flight 612
Air West Flight 612

A Boeing 737, similar to the aircraft involved in the hijacking
Hijacking summary
Date January 24, 2007 (2007-01-24)
Type Hijacking
Site N'Djamena, Chad
Passengers 95[1]
Crew 8
Injuries 0
Fatalities 0
Survivors 103 (all)[2]
Aircraft type Boeing 737
Operator Air West

Air West Flight 612 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight operated by Air West between Khartoum, Sudan and Al-Fashir.[3] On January 24, 2007, with 103 people on board, the flight, operated by a Boeing 737, was hijacked shortly after takeoff by a male individual.[3][4] The plane landed safely at N'Djamena, Chad, where the hijacker surrendered.[3]

Contents

Hijacking

On the day of the hijacking the plane had an entirely Sudanese passenger complement, the only exceptions being a British citizen and an Italian military attaché. Mohamed Abdu Altif (also referred to as Mohamed Abdelatif Mahamat[5]), a 26-year-old from Al-Fashir, in North Darfur, entered the cockpit of the aircraft at 09:00 local time (0600 GMT), approximately half an hour after takeoff from Khartoum International Airport. He ordered the pilot to fly to Rome, Italy and then on to London, England.[4][6] It was originally mistakenly reported that his weapon was an AK-47 assault rifle[7], but subsequent reports stated that the weapon was in fact a handgun.[6]

After the pilot explained that there was not enough fuel on board to reach London, he agreed to fly to Chad.[6] He made no threats or other communication to the passengers, none of whom became aware the aircraft had been hijacked.[6] When the aircraft entered Chadian airspace it was met by French Mirage F-1 fighter jets stationed in N'Djamena[8], which escorted the plane until it landed at N'Djamena International Airport at 0830 GMT, where it was immediately surrounded by Chadian troops.[4] Twenty minutes of negotiations followed[4], after which the hijacker allowed all the occupants of the aircraft to leave before surrendering.[8]

Subsequent events

The passengers and crew subsequently re-boarded the aircraft, which then returned to Khartoum International at 22:00 local time (1900 GMT).[8] The Sudanese Minister of Justice requested that Interpol hand over Muhammed, a Sudanese national, so that he could be charged with terrorism, posing a threat to passenger safety, and illegal possession of arms.[9] Chad further announced an intention to prosecute him.[6]

Chad's infrastructure minister, Adoum Younousmi, later said: “Chad is not a terrorist haven. He is a terrorist and we will take him to court”.[10] A Chadian official subsequently identified him as being “close to” the Justice and Equality Movement rebel group.[8] Sudan's Civil Aviation Authority also formed a separate committee specifically to investigate how Muhammed was able to pass through security undetected.[8]

Motives

After Mohammed's arrest, he was taken to the headquarters for the National Security Agency for interrogation.[8] There, he revealed his motives for the hijacking. He wanted to draw attention to the conflict in Darfur, stating: “I wanted to attract national and international opinion to what's happening in Darfur." He said that wanted to go first to Rome, and then to the United Kingdom to seek asylum.[8] “I'm neither a rebel nor in the opposition, but the Sudanese government is exterminating the population by creating conflicts among different communities and saying that it's just an internal, communal problem,” he said.[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7584675.stm
  2. ^ http://abc.gov.au/news/stories/2007/01/24/1833140.htm
  3. ^ a b c Hijacked Plane Lands In Chad - nbc11.com - Obtained January 24, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d Sudanese hijack ends, hijacker seized in Chad - newsgd.com - Obtained April 18, 2007.
  5. ^ http://www.kilil5.com/news/7882_sudanese-arrested-after-attempte
  6. ^ a b c d e Sudan Plane Hijacker Surrenders in Chad - Townhall.com - Obtained April 18, 2007.
  7. ^ Sudanese passenger plane hijacked by gunman - Reuters - Obtained April 19, 2007.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Troops seize hijacker of Sudan plane in Chad - France 24 - Obtained April 19, 2007.
  9. ^ Air West Flight Hijack - Press Release by the United States embassy in khartoum, Sudan. Obtained on April 18, 2007.
  10. ^ Sudan Plane Hijack Ends Peacefully - China.org.cn - Obtained April 19, 2007.

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