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Attempt to hijack Turkish plane to Sochi foiled

Turkey Plane Bomb Threat

By SUZAN FRASER

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - A Ukrainian man tried to hijack a Turkey-bound flight to Sochi, Russia, as the Winter Olympics were kicking off Friday, but the pilot tricked him and landed in Istanbul instead, where he was stealthily detained after a four-hour stand-off on a plane full of passengers, an official said.

The hijacking drama came as the Winter Olympics opened in the Russian resort city, with thousands of athletes from around the world pouring into the tightly secured stadium amid warnings the games could be a terrorism target.

A Turkish F-16 fighter was scrambled as soon as the pilot on the Pegasus Airlines flight from Kharkiv, Ukraine, with 110 passengers aboard signaled there was a hijacking attempt, according to NTV television. It escorted the plane safely to its original destination at Sabiha Gokcen airport in Istanbul.

Officials credited the pilot and crew for convincing the 45-year-old-man, who claimed he had a bomb, that they were following his wishes.

"Through a very successful implementation by our pilot and crew, the plane was landed in Istanbul instead of Sochi," Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu told reporters at the airport. "He thought it was going to Sochi but after a while he realized that (the plane) was in Istanbul."

He said the suspected hijacker was arrested after a stand-off during which a negotiator convinced him to first allow women and children to be evacuated and later agreed to let all other passengers off the plane as well.

"Our security units sneaked through various entrances during the evacuation of the passengers and with a quick and effective intervention the hijacker was subdued," Mutlu said. No bomb was found, he said.

The man's motive was unclear, but Mutlu said he had "requests concerning his own country" and wanted to relay a "message concerning sporting activities in Sochi." Mutlu said there was no immediate indication that the man was a member of any terror organization and Mutlu did not give his name.

"We were receiving through various channels information that there could be initiatives to sabotage the spirit of peace arising in Sochi, but we are saddened that such an event took place in our city," Mutlu said.

The governor said the man was being held at Istanbul police headquarters. The man was slightly injured during the struggle when he was detained, but no weapons were used, he said. The private Dogan news agency said later that the man was taken to a hospital for his injuries.

The Interfax news agency cited the Ukrainian Security Service, the country's main security agency, as saying the passenger was in a state of severe alcohol intoxication. Mutlu said the man was not drunk, but said he may have taken substances to help him remain alert. He did not elaborate.

Habib Soluk, the Turkish Transport Ministry undersecretary, told NTV earlier that the man rose from his seat, shouted that there was bomb on board and tried to enter the locked cockpit. The pilot signaled that there was a hijack attempt and the airport was placed on high alert.

Air traffic at Sabiha Gokcen was halted throughout the incident but had returned to normal after the man's arrest.

The plane landed at about 6 p.m. Turkish time, just as the opening ceremony for the Olympics was about to begin. The executive creative director of the Olympics opening ceremony told reporters afterward he heard of the threat but didn't alter the show's plans in any way.

"We had so much adrenaline in our veins that we could not grasp much," Konstantin Ernst said through an interpreter.

With about 100,000 police, security agents and army troops flooding Sochi, Russia has pledged to ensure "the safest Olympics in history." But terror fears fueled by recent suicide bombings have left athletes, spectators and officials worldwide jittery about potential threats.

"It would be wrong to make any comment before all the facts are known but any security questions are of course a matter for the authorities," International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said.

Security experts warn that Islamic militants in the Caucasus, who have threatened to derail the Winter Games that run from Feb. 7-23, could achieve their goal by choosing soft targets away from the Olympic sites or even outside Sochi.

Olympic organizers introduced blanket screening of all visitors, requiring them to share passport details to get a Winter Games spectator pass. Officials also cut access to vehicles lacking Sochi registration or a special pass, and guards were searching all train commuters.

Sochi Hijack Threat Diverts Plane To Turkey

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chuck February 08 2014 at 12:42 AM

good job

Flag Reply +1 rate up
grandmary13 February 08 2014 at 8:34 AM

The pilot and crew of that Turkish flight to Sochi deserve special attention and awards for bravery!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
rademps grandmary13 February 08 2014 at 9:28 AM

You're not kidding! Before I retired I worked for Eastern Airlines and was lucky enough to never experience anything like that. Sometimes things get "a little tense" in a cockpit under normal circumstances. I can only imagine how it would feel to have someone banging on the cockpit door during what is a normal flight (up to that point). Kudos to that crew who perhaps had never flown together as a crew before. Speaks well to their training.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Wizard February 07 2014 at 5:46 PM

another nut.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
netecutli Wizard February 07 2014 at 6:38 PM

Not a nut, an idiot, hijacking so last century.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Michelle Neff February 07 2014 at 8:20 PM

Good job ! The piolt and Crew deserve medals-- the Instanbul police are outsainding! Really dumb to try and pick on a turkl!

Flag Reply +10 rate up
1 reply
nf1stinks Michelle Neff February 08 2014 at 12:01 AM

I would not know.. I do not know any Turks.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Mike February 08 2014 at 10:32 AM

Regardless of the hijacker's politics, him mental state, his motivation, or his links to either terrorists (or as some here claim, to Obama). I applaud the plane's crew and the security at Istanbul for their quick thinking and obvious good training. The passengers are safe, the hijacker is in custody and nothing bad happened (other than the hijacker needing some medical attention). Bravo!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
RouteUS66Busload February 07 2014 at 8:27 PM

Maybe he was going to do something with the aircraft to/at the Russian Olympics similar to 9/11, in my opinion. Glad it was foiled.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
potmind February 07 2014 at 9:07 PM

With all those armed security people, cops, and quite likely unmarked armed cops, it won't take much for the religious terrorists to trigger a shooting mess that would cause a massacre before they realize it was a mistake.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
d.carns potmind February 07 2014 at 9:58 PM

That is what Obama has ordered by his Islamic order.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
3 replies
vietnamvet1967 February 08 2014 at 8:00 AM

So now that is reported, People think the so called Terriosts cannot read, HELLOOOOOO

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
STAN vietnamvet1967 February 08 2014 at 10:35 AM

Was thinking the same thing.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
imdhunk February 08 2014 at 2:41 AM

They should never say what tricks they used on would be hijackers because a potential future copycat could use that as a guideline to perfect their plan to hijack because they'd learn the mistakes of their predecessors...............

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
vietnamvet1967 imdhunk February 08 2014 at 8:02 AM

But wait, everyone thinks they need to know everything at the moment it happens,
The Officials should have never said what happened about the pilot
We are just as Stupid

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
siscosdad vietnamvet1967 February 08 2014 at 2:54 PM

That's one of you.....

Flag 0 rate up
Maria February 07 2014 at 5:43 PM

Have to find the ROOTH for this all creminal ectivity. The socioty living the child age.? Grow up!!!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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