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Hijackers Of Turkish Plane Surrender – Al Qaeda?

From Hijackers of Turkish plane surrender – Yahoo! News:

Hijackers of Turkish plane surrender

ANKARA (AFP) – Two men claiming to be Al-Qaeda members who hijacked a Turkish plane surrendered at an airport in southern Turkey on Saturday after hours of negotiations, officials said.

“The terrorists have been taken in, the hijack is over,” Hayrettin Balcioglu, the deputy governor of Antalya where the plane made an emergency landing after its seizure, told the Anatolia news agency.

Turkish Interior Minister Osman Gunes identified one of the hijackers as Turkish national Mehmet Resat Ozlu, and the other as a man who had a Syrian passport, but was believed to be of Palestinian origin.

“We persuaded them to surrender themselves,” Gunes told reporters here.”They are currently being questioned by police.” …

“The hijackers regret what they did and want to return to Iran,” a crew member was quoted by the NTV news channel as saying.

The hijackers, who said they were carrying a bomb, commandered the Atlas Jet plane shortly after it took off from an airport in Turkish northern Cyprus at 7:15 am (0415 GMT) for Istanbul with 136 passengers and six crew, the private airline’s manager, Tuncay Doganer, said.

Passengers said the hijackers wanted the aircraft, an MD-83, to fly to Iran or Syria, but the pilots said they needed to refuel and landed in the Turkish Mediterranean resort of Antalya at 8:15 am.

Turkish authorities struck an agreement with the hijackers to release women and children on board through the front of the plane, but while they were being let out, most of the remaining passengers managed to break down the back door of the aircraft and jump out.

The pilots also jumped out of the cockpit window, Aydin Kizilhan, the manager of the company which leased the aircraft to Atlas Jet, said…

In their negotiations, the hijackers demanded that authorities send new pilots to the aircraft and allow it to take off for Iran or another Middle Eastern country, the CNN-Turk news channel said.

Turkish security officials refused the demands and asked the hijackers to release the remaining captives and turn themselves in, it added.

The passengers said the hijackers, who appeared to be aged between 25 and 3O, spoke a mix of Arabic, English and Turkish.

“They said they were from Al-Qaeda. They tried to break the cabin door,” Erhan Erkul, one of the passengers who fled, told NTV…

Another passenger, Hakki Dogusoy, said the hijackers had said they would not harm the passengers.

“They said ‘We are Muslims. You are Muslims too. We will not do you any harm'” Dogusoy said…

Salih Usar, transport minister in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Ankara, told the Anatolia news agency the hijackers were protesting against the policies of the United States.

In typical fashion the Associated Press buried any mention of the kidnappers’ association with Al Qaeda:

Earlier, Turkish Cypriot authorities said the men were Iranians protesting U.S. policies, and some passengers said the hijackers claimed they were affiliated with al-Qaida. There was no confirmation of the claims.

And the Reuters article ignores it all together:

The identity of the hijackers was still unclear: the transport minister of Turkish-backed breakaway northern Cyprus, Salih Usar, said they were two Iranians protesting against the United States. But Turkey’s Cihan news agency reported one was Palestinian and the other Turkish.

They certainly don’t want to say anything that might make their allies in the Taliban look bad.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, August 18th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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