Donner plays down terror link after Schiphol scare
24 August 2006, AMSTERDAM - The incident which led the pilot of a Northwest Airlines plane to turn back to Amsterdam had nothing to do with terrorism, Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner said on Thursday.
24 August 2006
AMSTERDAM - The incident which led the pilot of a Northwest Airlines plane to turn back to Amsterdam had nothing to do with terrorism, Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner said on Thursday.
Donner said, “to date it does not appear that the incident was terror-related.”
He declined to go into further detail, but the Public Prosecution Office was due to give a press conference later in the day.
Customs officials escorted 12 people off the plane after the pilot, acting on information from the cabin crew, decided to return to Schiphol. The 12 are still in custody and are being questioned by the Public Prosecution Office.
Donner said he was happy with the way that procedures were followed after the pilot made his decision.
Two F-16s that escorted the plane back to the airport could have been given permission by the Justice Minister to shoot the passenger plane down if the situation had demanded it. Such a procedure was never on the cards on Wednesday, stressed Donner.
On the return to Schiphol, kerosene was released over the IJsselmeer lake to lighten the DC10 for landing. There were 149 passengers on board the plane, which was heading to Bombay. Those not arrested were taken to hotels around Schiphol. Northwest said their flight would resume on Thursday.
Crew members and air marshals saw passengers trying to use their mobile phones and passing phones to each other while the plane took off, according to one American state official who spoke anonymously.
"It was behaviour that you do not see among average passengers," he said.
The two F-16s had to keep a minimum distance of five miles from air traffic routes during the return to Schiphol, according to recordings of cockpit conversations circulating on the internet.
Conversations between the Northwest plane crew and air traffic control have also made their way on to the internet.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news