Air West Flight 612 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight operated by Air West between Khartoum and Al-Fashir, both in Sudan.[3] On January 24, 2007, with 103 people on board, the flight, operated by a Boeing 737, was hijacked shortly after takeoff by a male individual.[3][4] The plane landed safely at N'Djamena, Chad, where the hijacker surrendered.[3]

Air West Flight 612
A Boeing 737, similar to the aircraft involved in the hijacking
DateJanuary 24, 2007 (2007-01-24)
SiteN'Djamena, Chad
Aircraft typeBoeing 737
OperatorAir West
Flight originKhartoum International Airport, Khartoum
DestinationEl Fasher Airport, Al-Fashir
Survivors103 (all)[2]

Hijacking edit

On the day of the hijacking the plane had an entirely Sudanese passenger complement, the only exceptions being a British citizen and an Italian military attaché. Mohamed Abdu Altif (also referred to as Mohamed Abdelatif Mahamat[5]), a 26-year-old from Al-Fashir, in North Darfur, entered the cockpit of the aircraft at 09:00 local time (0600 UTC), approximately half an hour after takeoff from Khartoum International Airport. He ordered the pilot to fly to Rome, Italy and then on to London, England.[4][6] It was originally mistakenly reported that his weapon was an AK-47 assault rifle,[7] but subsequent reports stated that the weapon was in fact a handgun.[6]

After the pilot explained that there was not enough fuel on board to reach London, he agreed to fly to Chad.[6] He made no threats or other communication to the passengers, none of whom became aware the aircraft had been hijacked.[6] When the aircraft entered Chadian airspace it was met by French Mirage F-1 fighter jets stationed in N'Djamena,[8] which escorted the plane until it landed at N'Djamena International Airport at 0830 UTC, where it was immediately surrounded by Chadian troops.[4] Twenty minutes of negotiations followed,[4] after which the hijacker allowed all the occupants of the aircraft to leave before surrendering.[8]

Subsequent events edit

The passengers and crew subsequently re-boarded the aircraft, which then returned to Khartoum International at 22:00 local time (19:00 UTC).[8] The Sudanese Minister of Justice requested that Interpol hand over Muhammed, a Sudanese national, so that he could be charged with terrorism, posing a threat to passenger safety, and illegal possession of arms.[9] Chad further announced an intention to prosecute him.[6]

Chad's infrastructure minister, Adoum Younousmi, later said: "Chad is not a terrorist haven. He is a terrorist and we will take him to court".[10] A Chadian official subsequently identified him as being "close to" the Justice and Equality Movement rebel group.[8] Sudan's Civil Aviation Authority also formed a separate committee specifically to investigate how Muhammed was able to pass through security undetected.[8]

Motives edit

After Mohammed's arrest, he was taken to the headquarters for the National Security Agency for interrogation.[8] There, he revealed his motives for the hijacking. He wanted to draw attention to the conflict in Darfur, stating: "I wanted to attract national and international opinion to what's happening in Darfur." He said that wanted to go first to Rome, and then to the United Kingdom to seek asylum.[8] "I'm neither a rebel nor in the opposition, but the Sudanese government is exterminating the population by creating conflicts among different communities and saying that it's just an internal, communal problem," he said.[8]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "BBC NEWS - Africa - Sudan plane hijackers surrender". August 27, 2008. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  2. ^ "Chadian troops seize hijacker of Sudanese plane". ABC News. January 24, 2007. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Hijacked Plane Lands In Chad". NBC Bay Area. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d Sudanese hijack ends, hijacker seized in Chad – – Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  5. ^ "Sudanese arrested after attempted plane hijack". March 30, 2007. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e Sudan Plane Hijacker Surrenders in Chad – – Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  7. ^ Sudanese passenger plane hijacked by gunman[dead link]Reuters – Retrieved April 19, 2007.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Troops seize hijacker of Sudan plane in Chad Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback MachineFrance 24 – Retrieved April 19, 2007.
  9. ^ Air West Flight Hijack Archived July 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine – Press Release by the United States embassy in khartoum, Sudan. Obtained on April 18, 2007.
  10. ^ Sudan Plane Hijack Ends Peacefully – – Retrieved April 19, 2007.