Tags: Iranian | Arrested | Hijack | Scare

Iranian Arrested in LA Hijack Scare

Friday, 28 September 2001 12:00 AM

On the same day that President George W. Bush spoke at a rally in Chicago to "get back on board" U.S. airlines, the Boeing 767 touched down with an F-16 flying off each wingtip and a bevy of police officers and an FBI SWAT team waiting.

The gray F-16s roared off over the Pacific after the airliner taxied to a remote area of the airport and was quickly boarded by the heavily armed agents dressed in all black.

"We were looking down the corridor, and there must have been 10 of them (SWAT agents), side by side and all tightly packed together with their guns out, totally covered in black and screaming 'get your head down,'" passenger Bruce Fitzgerald told KABC-TV. "That was a really frightening experience. It almost seemed like a movie."

Air Canada Flight 792 had been en route from Los Angeles to Toronto with 138 passengers and seven crew members when a passenger identified as Javid Naghani, 37, allegedly lit up a cigarette in a lavatory.

"We all knew as soon as we smelled smoke that we were probably going to have to turn back," another passenger, Kim Powell, told reporters.

Witnesses on the flight told agents that Naghani was discovered by a flight attendant who loudly told him smoking on airliners was banned by U.S. law.

"The male passenger allegedly became abusive with the flight attendant and made disparaging statements against the United States," the FBI said in a press release. "The pilot communicated information and stated that he would be returning to the airport as a precautionary measure."

Los Angeles television stations had initially reported that a bomb threat had been made during the row, but there was no indication from the FBI that such a threat had been made.

The incident, however, shook up the other passengers, many of whom said they were shocked at the aggressive response by the authorities.

"When we landed, that's when things got a little surreal," said passenger Joe Futtner. "That was a little disconcerting."

The pair of Air Force fighter jets was dispatched to escort the Canadian jet back to Los Angeles where Naghani was taken into custody and turned over to the FBI, which routinely investigates disruptions aboard airliners, on suspicion of interfering with a flight crew.

California Gov. Gray Davis was, by coincidence, holding his own news conference at an airport parking lot, coaxing the public to go back to flying on commercial airliners and promising safety for passengers with the National Guard units to be called up to assist with providing airport security. The governor was stationed at a LAX parking lot where passengers who arrive at the airport in private cars must now catch shuttle buses to the terminal.

The suspect will be in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Friday morning.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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On the same day that President George W. Bush spoke at a rally in Chicago to get back on board U.S. airlines, the Boeing 767 touched down with an F-16 flying off each wingtip and a bevy of police officers and an FBI SWAT team waiting. The gray F-16s roared off over the...
Iranian,Arrested,Hijack,Scare
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2001-00-28
Friday, 28 September 2001 12:00 AM
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