New York Times, Monday, September 7, 1970
NOTE: The entire article is on this one page. References to the article continuing elsewhere are
part of the original 2-page article included for accuracy.
4 Jets Hijacked; One, a 747, Is Blown Up
Arab Group Says It Took Planes - El Al Foils move
The New York Times (by Stephen Hadermayer)............................. Sept. 7, 1970
Routes taken by the four airliners from points of hijacking toward eventual destinations
Special to The New York Times
LONDON, Monday, Sept. 7 - Four jets bound for New York with more than 600 persons aboard were hijacked over Europe yesterday, apparently by members of an Arab guerilla group. Three of the flights were diverted to the Middle East; the fourth landed at London after a gunfight in which a hijacker was killed.
The United Arab Republic's Middle East News Agency reported early today that one of the four planes, a Pan American World Airways Boeing 747 jumbo jet, had exploded at Cairo International Airport, where it eventually landed. Everyone aboard had already left, the agency said. Spokesmen for the airline said the United States Embassy had confirmed the report.
The four hijackings all took place in the late morning or early afternoon, not long after the planes took off for New York - two from Amsterdam, one from Frankfurt and one from Zurich. The lines involved were El Al Israel Airlines, Trans World Airlines, Pan American and Swissair.
The hijacking attempt that failed took place aboard an El Al jet that landed early in the afternoon at Heathrow Airport in London with one of the two hijackers dead and the other, a woman, wounded. A steward and two other passengers were also wounded. The plane, with a change of crew, took off later for New York.
The three other flights were reported to have landed in the Middle East. The hijackings involved the following planes:
El Al's Flight 219 from Tel
Continued on Page 3, Column 2
United Press International
BEFORE MISHAP: The Pan American Boeing 747 in Beirut, before landing in Cairo, where the plane was blown up
4 Jets Bound for New York Hijacked Over Europe
Continued from Page 1, Column 4
Aviv, with 148 passengers and 10 crew members aboard, which had been briefly airborne from Amsterdam when a young man and woman armed with hand grenades and a pistol tried to take control. They were overpowered by the crews and passengers as the pilot threw the plane into a steep dive to throw them off balance.
Pan American's Flight 93, with 152 passengers and a crew of 17 which was also hijacked shortly after take-off from Amsterdam's Schipol Airport. The 747 was on the last leg of a flight from Brussels to New York. There were two unidentified hijackers involved, Pan Am said. The plane landed at Beirut, Lebanon, an airline spokesman said, about 11 P.M. (5 P.M. New York time), and, after refueling and taking seven more "associates" of the hijackers aboard, took off 2 1/2 hours later for Cairo.
T.W.A.'s Flight 741, an around-the-world flight which was ordered by an unidentified man to reverse course and fly to the Middle East less than 15 minutes after it's take-off from Franfurt with 141 passengers and a crew of 10. The Boeing 707 landed at, what an air spokesman in New York called "a forlorn desert airstrip in Jordan."
Swissair's Flight 100, with 143 passengers and 12 crew members aboard, which was diverted less than an hour after its take-off from Zurich. Refused permission to land at Amman, the DC-8 jet was reported to have landed at what was believed to be a military installation at Zerqa, about 15 miles northeast of the Jordanian capital.
Reports of Another Seizure
There were conflicting reports yesterday that a second El Al aircraft had been hijacked during a flight from Nicosia, Cyprus, to Tel Aviv and was on its way to a "secret airport of the revolution." This report was denied by the airline and Israeli officials.
A spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the most militant left-wing Arab commando group, said later yesterday that the organization had conducted the four confirmed hijackings.
The spokesman, in Beirut, said that the American planes been seized "to give the Americans a lesson after they have supported Israel all these years" and in retaliation for the United States peace initiative in the Middle East.
The Swiss plane was hijacked, the spokesman said, "in order to free our prisoners in Switzerland." This was a reference to the sentencing of three Arab commandos by a Swiss court last December for an attack on an Israeli airliner at the Zurich airport.
As for the El Al plane, the spokesman said: "we are fighting Israel; they are our enemy and we will fight them everywhere.
Account of the Struggle
The only one of the four hijackings for which any first-hand accounts were available was that of the struggle aboard the El Al jet that began 30 minutes after the plane took off from Amsterdam. The schedule for the 707 called for it to arrive at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York at 2:35 P.M.
"It all starts as we were completing the ascent from Amsterdam airport," said Mrs. Florence M. Krasner, a housewife from Cleveland, who said she was sitting just behind the pair of hijackers in the third row of the tourist-class section of the aircraft.
"The pair were aged about 24 to 25. The girl was beautiful with dark hair that may have been a wig. I could not tell the nationality of either of them."
It was, according to El Al spokesmen, 1:17 P.M. (8:17 A.M. New York time), when in Mrs. Krasner's words, "The two of them stood up as the rest of us still had our safety belts on. The man had a small pistol and the girl was holding two hand grenades."
According to Mr. Fay Shenk, another passenger in the tourist section, "The man suddenly leapt from his seat with a strange sort of animal bellow. He had a small pistol in his hand and rushed forward toward the
first-class section and the flight deck. The girl also jumped up with a grenade in each hand and rushed after him. Next thing I heard some shots that sounded like a cap gun, but I discovered later that they were real bullets."
Although there were conflicting reports of precisely what had happened in the first-class section, all accounts agreed that an unidentified young man, either a security guard or a passenger, had grabbed the woman by the elbows and disarmed her. She was pushed to the floor and her hands and feet bound with string and a man's necktie.
The man with the pistol tried to push open the door to the pilot's cabin but was intercepted by a steward, Shlomo Vider. Shots were fired and Mr. Vider was wounded in the chest. According to another passenger, two more shots were fired by a second security man. The male hijacker was wounded and died before the aircraft reached London.
As the fighting broke out close to the cockpit door, "The plane started banking," said Paul Kaplan, 13 years old, of Philadelphia. "It sort of dived and everyone was screaming. Later we heard that this was to throw the hijackers off balance." The stewardesses, several passengers said went up and down the aisle, calming the passengers and encouraging them to sing Israeli songs.
Officials at Heathrow Airport said that the pilot had sent a message to the control tower reporting the hijacking attempt and requesting permission to land which was granted immediately. Police cars, fire trucks and ambulances rushed to surround the plane as it touched down. Security men and Scotland Yard officials were awaiting the Israeli plane as it taxied down the runway at 2:05 P.M. London time.
The passengers were taken off the plane for questioning and the police removed the body of the hijacker and took the young woman into custody. The London police announced soon afterward that both hijackers were Arabs.
An Israeli source in London said that El Al's security personnel believed the two hijackers had been unarmed when they boarded the plane in Amsterdam. "Their personal belongings were thoroughly checked and nothing was found," an Israeli official said. "The question now is, how did they get the weapons?"
Next stop Uncertain
About 45 minutes after the El Al hijacking attempt, which airline spokesmen said had taken place over the North Sea, T.W.A.'s nonstop Flight 741 left Frankfurt for New York, where it was due to arrive at 3:05 P.M. Less than 15 minutes later, Capt. L. D. Woods, the pilot, said on the radio to Frankfurt: "We are being kidnapped." He was unable to name his new destination, but he later reported to Zagreb, Yugoslavia, that his destination was "the Gaza strip."
The 707 jet, on the last leg of a round-the-world flight with stops in Los Angeles, Bombay, Tel Aviv and Athens, picked up 39 passengers at Frankfurt, the airline said.
On its flight back across West German, the hijacked plane was escorted for a while by United States Air Force fighters stationed in West Germany. The hijacking and the plane's immediate change of course took place near the West German - Luxembourg border.
A T.W.A. spokesman in Frankfurt said the plane's new route had taken it over Munich. Zagreb and Cyprus before it had headed still further southeast. Contact with the plane was broken over Cyprus, he said. It was later reported to have landed at Amman.
Hijacked Near Dijon
At about the same time that the T.W.A. jet was leaving Frankfurt, Swissair's Flight 100 was taking off for New York from Kloten Airport in Zurich. It was due to arrive in New York at 3:50 P.M. The aircraft was over Luxeuil, France, near Dijon, an airline spokesman said, when a woman's voice came over the radio to announce, in Arabic and English, that the aircraft was in the control of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The pilot, Capt. Fritz Schreiber, continued to radio frequent reports to Zurich as the plane headed east over the Mediterranean. Late yesterday afternoon in New York, a Swissair spokesman said that the line had learned from Zurich that the plane had landed at Zerqa and that "all passengers are safe."
The Baghdad radio said the passengers on the Swissair plane and the plane itself would be held pending the release of the three commandos sentenced to 12-year terms by a court in Winterthur, near Zurich. They were sentenced in the machine-gunning of an EI Al plane in February, 1969, at Zurich's airport, in which a crew member killed one of the attackers. Swissair officials refused to comment on the reported demands.
The Swiss Cabinet, after an emergency meeting in Berne tonight, announced that the passengers and crew were safe and that it would make no decision "until the situation is clearer." The Swiss television network predicted in a special program tonight that the Government would yield to the "blackmail." A commentator said that the Cabinet had no choice when it came to weighing the lives of the 155 persons aboard the plane against those of the three commandos.
Confusion on Landing Site
The commando group said in Amman that the T.W.A. and Swissair planes had both landed at a "revolution airport" in Jordan. Swissair representatives continued to say that their plane had landed at Zerqa, while a T.W.A. spokesman said he did not know the location of the "forlorn desert airstrip" at which the T.W.A. jet had landed.
The T.W.A. spokesman said that "Jordanian aviation officials" had assured the company ''that everything possible was being done to expedite the swift and safe return of our passengers and airplane." He said that two T.W.A. executives were en route to Amman from Rome and Paris and that the airline had sent a cable to the Jordanian Government asking for its help.
Pan American's Flight 93, the Boeing 747, was about 90 minutes late in arriving at Amsterdam from Brussels, where it originated, and then in taking off for New York, where it would have arrived about 6 P.M. last night allowing for the delay, a spokesman for the airline said. The jumbo let, which has a capacity of 362 passengers, was carrying 151 paying passengers and one infant, and a crew of 17. About 45 minutes out of Amsterdam at a point that an airline spokesman said would be about "the northern tip of the United Kingdom" on the flight's northwest track, the pilot said on the radio to Amsterdam and London that he was being forced to change course. He asked for navigational bearings for Beirut. The plane was later reported to the heading for Iraq, but did land at Beirut.
Airport officials there said the jet would fly on to Cairo after refueling, but the plane remained at the airport after taking on fuel. The officials said the hijackers were waiting to meet with a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who was on his way to the airport.
Instructions for the plane to continue on to Cairo, airport officials said, were relayed by telephone by Abu Maher, who was described as a deputy for Dr. George Habash, the leader of the Marxist group. They said that Abu Maher had telephoned from Amman to the control tower of Beirut's airport, where commandos were already installed.
Dr. Habash whose group has made a specialty of hijacking and attacking airliners, advocates ridding the Arab world of American business interests.
It was reported that several airports refused to allow the 747 to land because they were not equipped to handle the giant plane. Airport officials at Beirut said that the commandos in the tower had tried to dissuade the hijackers from landing there because of this. A Pan American spokesman in New York, however, said that the 747 was "quite capable of landing at any airfield that can handle a 707," which is smaller. A 707 is 152 feet long, and 747 is 231 feet long.
Landing in Cairo Reported
A spokesman for Pan American in New York said that the 747 took off from Beirut at 7:37 P.M. New York time and that the two hijackers on the plane had been joined by "seven of their associates who boarded the aircraft in Beirut." By 9:30 P.M., Pan American said it had received confirmation of the plane's landing at Cairo, before the reported explosion.
In New York, Najeeb E. Halaby, the president of Pan American issued a statement on the basis of the reports from Cairo, saying: "The most important fact is that our passengers and crew are safe." He said that a Boeing 707 was en route to Cairo "to fly the passengers and crew immediately to New York." The hijacked 747 was fully insured for $23 million, spokesmen said. The 747, first put into commercial service by Pan Am in January, is the world's largest commercial aircraft. It weighs 355 tons and stands more than six stories high at the tail, with cruising speeds of 584 miles an hour.
OCR Conversion to DOC and HTML formats by JWRosa 5-8-99 (8-5-99 NL)