Turkey Hijackers: Al Qaeda or Iran? (Video)
Thankfully, all of the passengers on the hijacked plane in Turkey plane escaped to safety today and the hijackers gave themselves up without a fight.
The BBC has the exciting video footage of the passengers fleeing HERE.
An unidentified man raises his hands as others stand on the tarmac near the hijacked Atlasjet aircraft, at Antalya Airport August 18, 2007. A Turkish plane heading for Istanbul from northern Cyprus was hijacked on Saturday, but the hijackers gave themselves up and released all hostages five hours after forcing the plane to land in Turkey. CEO of Atlas Jet airline Tuncay Doganer confirmed that the hijack of the passenger plane, which was bringing 136 passengers from northern Cyprus’s Ercan airport, had come to an end. (REUTERS/Fatma Unal/Anatolian)
But who were exactly these hijackers? There are two different versions to this story.
The BBC reported this morning:
Two men who tried to hijack a Turkish plane have surrendered after all 136 passengers and crew escaped unharmed. The Atlas Jet plane was flying from Northern Cyprus to Istanbul when the two men tried to divert it to Iran.
Instead, the pilot landed the plane in the southern city of Antalya, claiming it needed refuelling.
Turkey’s interior ministry said one of the hijackers was a Turkish national and the other had a Syrian passport. Their motives are not yet known.
Earlier, Northern Cyprus officials said the two men were Iranian nationals protesting against actions of the United States.
The hijackers announced after the plane landed that women and children could leave.
But when the emergency exits were opened almost everyone rushed out, the BBC’s Turkey correspondent Sarah Rainsford reports.
Many leapt from the wing of the plane to safety.
The two pilots also jumped from the cockpit on the tarmac, in order to avoid having to fly the plane to Tehran.
Eventually all passengers and crew members were released unharmed and the hijackers surrendered.
Meanwhile… The Iranian Fars News service says the hijackers were Al Qaeda members (trying to get to Iran):
Plane headed from Cyprus to Istanbul hijacked by men claiming to be al-Qaeda members.
Hijackers claiming to have a bomb and to be members of al-Qaeda hijacked a Turkish passenger plane heading from northern Cyprus to Istanbul Saturday.
The hijackers had asked that the plane be diverted to Iran or Syria but the pilots landed the plane at Antalya airport, near Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, said Tuncay Doganer, CEO of the private Atlas-Jet airline company.
Al Qaeda or Iran?
We’ll find out soon enough.