In an unprecedented hijacking operation, Arab commandos today (Sunday) seized three jetliners -- one a Jumbo Jet -- over Western Europe.
CU Woman & man passengers (SOF)
TRANSCRIPTS: WOMAN PASSENGER: " There were two hijackers. They were sitting in front of me. I assumed they were hijackers. They got up at the beginning of the er..as we came to our steep ascent, I guess, because we still had our seat belts on. And they got up and they said Ahhh", like that, and one had a gun and the other had two grenades, and they ran to the front of the plane, and they tried to get to the pilot. The doors were locked. They, of course, hit...they shot the steward. And the secret service man came up and directed the people. The plane wavered. We all through we were going down. But it was a manoeuvre of the pilot to get them off balance. They were shot, and of course one of them was caught. And they tied them up with ties, whatever we could get, string..."
QUESTION:"Did you take part in that?"
WOMAN: "No, I didn't. There was one young man from America, a very young fellow, who grabbed them, grabbed the girl by her hand in which she had the two grenades. He did this completely by himself. I don't know where he got the courage. But he certainly was a brave young man."
MAN PASSENGER: "Myself, I wasn't feeling good. I was taking an aspirin and all of a sudden I heard a yell. And I turned my head and I was sitting by the aisle. I saw...I saw a woman, dark complexion and in a dark dress, I think, and holding two hand grenades. And a fellow, vis-a-vis, was holding a gun. And of course, the panic was great. Then I saw a man walking(indistinct) with his hands up, like he was knocking on the pilot's door to open up. With his left hand I saw him wheel -- the girl was standing right in front of him -- and knocked straight in her face..."
QUESTION: "So one of the passengers hit the man with the gun?"
MAN: "Er no, hit the girl. Not with the gun. I saw him with his hand here right in her face and she fell back. And then the commotion of fighting came on. We heard about six shots. Then one fellow got up in a white uniform -- I guess that was the steward -- that was all bloody over there and he fell back to the floor."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In an unprecedented hijacking operation, Arab commandos today (Sunday) seized three jetliners -- one a Jumbo Jet -- over Western Europe.
But an attempt to hijack a fourth airliner was thwarted after a mid-air gun battle. Later, passengers described the shooting in which an Arab man was killed and a girl wounded after their aircraft, an Israeli El Al Boeing 707, landed at London Airport.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the seizures, adding that the operation was aimed at wrecking the Middle East peace talks.
The commando's biggest coup was the seizure of a Pan American Jumbo Jet with 151 passengers aboard bound for New York. It was seized over the Atlantic and forced to fly to Cairo. Simultaneously, the commandos hijacked a Swissair DC-B with 143 passengers and a Trans World Airlines 707 carrying 145 passengers -- both were forced to land in Jordan.
In the attempt that failed, passengers said that a young Arab gunman and a girl clutching two hand grenades tried to enter the pilot's cabin. A steward and an armed a security man intercepted them. Then the shooting started: As soon as the jet touched down in London, one of the crew rushed across the tarmac to dump a grenade from which the pin had been pulled during the struggle.
El Al steward Schlomo Vider, shot while grappling with the gunman, was rushed to hospital with serious injuries. But doctors later said he was off the danger list. Police said the girl hijacker was only slightly injured and she was still being questioned tonight.