New York Times, Tuesday, September 8, 1970
Hijackers in Cairo Say They Blew Up 747
in Retaliation for U.S. Support of Israel
Warn That Oil Property Of Americans Is Next
By Raymond H. Anderson
Special to the New York Times
CAIRO, Sept. 7 - Left-wing Palestinian guerrillas who hijacked a Pan America jumbo jet to Cairo and blew it up on the runway minutes after landing this morning told passengers the action was in retaliation for support of Israel by the United States and warned that American - operated oil wells would be next.
The Boeing 747 was torn by explosions less than two minutes after the 173 passengers and crew members, as well as the two Palestinian hijackers and an explosives expert who joined the plane in Beirut, had slid down escape chutes and scrambled away across the surrounding desert sand.
About half a dozen passengers were injured in the escape and some were hospitalized. The hijackers had said the explosives would not go off until eight minutes after the evacuation of the plane.
There were conflicting reports about the number of persons on the 747, but John G. O'Neill, the Pan American World Airways manager in Cairo, put the total at 155 passengers, 14 crew members and four "Pan American personnel."
Waiting in Lounge
Apart from those hospitalized, the passengers and crew were taken to the airport transit lounge to await a special flight from London to take them to New York, the destination of the jet when it left Amsterdam yesterday.
The special flight left Cairo late this afternoon with all the passengers and crew members except three - two injured passengers and the husband of one.
The wreckage of the $23-million jet, which was fully insured, was being cleared from the runway this afternoon. The only sections still intact of the 355-ton, six-story-high plane were the tail and a portion of the left wing.
SMOLDERING: Pan American's 747 jumbo jet after commandos in Cairo blew it up
The jet was hijacked by two guerrillas of the Marxist-oriented Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The hijackers, described by passengers as "perfect gentlemen," said that the seizure of the plane was coordinated with other hijackings yesterday.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is frowned upon by the Egyptian leadership. Dozens of its members have been expelled from Cairo in recent weeks because of hostility to Cairo's acceptance of the United States settlement initiative.
The treatment accorded the three commandos who brought the plane here is uncertain. Al Ahram, the semiofficial Cairo newspaper, obliquely criticized the hijacking, saying that the Palestinians should seek the support of world opinion, not antagonize it.
The plane landed in Cairo at 4:23 A.M., local time (9:23 P.M., Sunday, New York time.)
"The hijackers told us the plane would be blown up, but they said it so politely and with such smiles that we couldn't take this too seriously," recalled Cornelius Van Aalst, the jet's flight service supervisor, in the airport restaurant this morning. He added:
"But we got everyone ready to escape fast after landing, asking them to take off their shoes for the slide down the chute. We put the shoes in blankets to throw them, but some got lost." Egyptian authorities gave shoes to passengers who arrived in the terminal in their stockings.
Motives Were Explained
The hijackers were "very friendly," and showed "exemplary manners" to the passengers, Mr. Van Aalst said, adding that one helped carry an injured woman in a blanket from the plane.
Dr. James Helme, a pediatrician from Nashville, said that the hijackers, nervous at first, had soon calmed down and began talking with passengers. They explained their motives and the objectives of the Palestinian movement.
"We are going to blow up this plane and after that it will be the American oil wells" one of the hijackers told Dr. Helme.
One of the planes was hijacked, the Palestinian said, so it and its passengers could be held as hostages for the release of Sirhan B. Sirhan, the Palestinian immigrant to the United States who was convicted of the murder of Robert F. Kennedy.
Dr. Alan Shalita of the New York University Medical Center said the hijackers had checked passports of all the passengers, and had asked passengers their occupations. They also asked if there were any Israeli citizens aboard.
"They told us they didn't like the United States but liked the American people, didn't like Israel but had no hatred of Jews," Dr. Shalita said.
Capt. J. W. Priddy, the chief pilot who had taken his wife for her first flight on a jumbo jet, said that the hijackers had forced him to fly low over Cairo several times before allowing him to land, suspicious that he might have flown to some other city.
HIJACKERS: From the left, Samir Abdel Maguid, Mazen Abu Mehnid and Aly Sayed Aly at Cairo Airport after destroying plane.
Egyptian authorities held them for questioning.
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