Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

12 passengers arrested from returned flight

August 24, 2006

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— Dutch F-16s escorted a Northwest Airlines flight bound for India back to an airport here Wednesday after the pilot radioed for help, and police arrested 12 passengers who had aroused suspicions, authorities said.

Police spokesman Rob Staenacker said he could not disclose their nationalities or the nature of the suspicions against them, only that "12 people have been arrested." An American passenger, who identified herself only as Alpa, told AP Television News she saw about a dozen people taken off the plane in handcuffs.

While Flight NO0042 to Bombay was over German airspace shortly after takeoff, the pilot radioed for permission to return to Schiphol Airport and asked for an escort of jet fighters because some of the passengers were acting suspiciously, the Defense Ministry said.

"A number of them behaved, in the opinion of the crew, in a suspicious manner," said the ministry. "As a result, the captain asked to return to Schiphol."

A U.S. government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, said crew members and air marshals observed the passengers trying to use cell phones and passing them among themselves while the airliner was taking off.

"It was behavior that average passengers wouldn't do," the official said.

The DC-10 was escorted back to Schiphol by two F-16s scrambled from a northern military airfield, the Defense Ministry said. Routine security measures were swiftly put into place.

The flight was canceled until today, and the passengers were put up in hotels, Northwest said.

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