What Happened to Terrorist Hijackers of Neerja’s Pan Am Flight 73
Five members belonging to Abu Nidal terrorist organization dressed up as airport security guards and seized control of the New York-bound flight before it could take off from Jinnah International Airport in Karachi for Frankfurt Airport in Germany.
Flash Back –
The Hijack of flight Pan Am 73 -
The Pan Am 73 flight from Mumbai to Frankfurt landed at the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, for an hour-long stopover.
Bhanot was the senior flight purser on Pan Am Flight 73 flying from Mumbai to USA, which was hijacked by four armed men on 5 September 1986 at Karachi airport in Pakistan. The aircraft was carrying 361 passengers and 19 crew members.
The terrorists wanted to fly to Cyprus and wanted to release some of their members from jail. Four heavily-armed Palestinian men, belonging to the Abu Nidal Organization entered the flight.
They grabbed Neerja, who was at the entrance to welcome the passengers, by her hair. Sensing danger, she conveyed the “hijack code” over the intercom to the flight’s cockpit crew.
As the plane was on the tarmac, the three-member American cockpit crew of pilot, co-pilot and the flight engineer evacuated the aircraft through an overhead hatch in the cockpit as per their training so that the aircraft could not be forcibly flown.
Bhanot, being the most senior cabin crew member remaining aboard, took charge
The hijackers, Palestinians, were part of the terrorist organization Abu Nidal Organization and were backed by Libya. The terrorists then instructed Bhanot to collect the passports of all the passengers so that they could identify the Americans.
The terrorists wanted to put pressure on America by identifying and threatening the Americans on the aircraft.
Bhanot and the other attendants hid the passports of the 41 Americans on board; some under a seat and the rest down a rubbish chute so that the hijackers could not differentiate between American and Non-American citizens
After 17 hours, at 9.55 pm, when the flight’s auxiliary power unit ran out of fuel, plunging the aircraft into darkness, the hijackers went on a shooting spree.
Neerja and a passenger flung open two emergency doors, allowing many passengers to escape. While helping three children slide down the chute of the emergency exit, Neerja was hit by bullets. Though she was rescued by two of her colleagues, she died before any medical assistance could reach her.
Below are the 5 names of terrorist, Hijackers who hijacked the Pan Am 73 flight
The five terrorists of Palestinian origin-
1-Zayd Hassan Abd Al-Latif Masud Al Safarini,
2-Mohammed Abdul Khalil Hussain,
3-Daud Mohammed Hafiz,
4-Mohammed Ahmed al-Munawar
All the hijackers, terrorist were arrested by Pakistani security forces.
At a trial held in 1988, all of the convicts admitted to having carried out the hijackings and were given death sentences that were later commuted to life imprisonment.
An Associated Press report from 2009 states that while four men were released after completing their jail terms and deported to the Palestinian territories
But few media reports say that four men escaped, ran away except Zayd Safrini.
Four others escaped from Adyala Jail in January 2008 when it was attacked by terrorists. The FBI announced a $5 million bounty on their heads.
In 2010, news reports claimed that one of five terrorists, Jamal Saeed Abdul Raheem was killed in a suspected US drone strike conducted on 9 January 2010 in North Wazirstan Agency, a tribal region of Pakistan.
His death was never confirmed and he remains on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists and Rewards for Justice Program lists
The leader of the operation Zayd Safarini was released from prison in Pakistan in 2001 He was, however, arrested a day later by FBI agents in Bangkok on his way to Jordan.
In 2003, Zayd Safrini pleaded guilty to 95 charges which included murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder among other.
The trial was attended by many survivors.
Around 50 survivors of the flight, along with family members of some of those who died, flew down from five countries to attend the trial in Washington. Over two days, many of them got a chance to directly address Safarini and speak their mind to him. Then, to everyone’s surprise, Safarini addressed the court.
Throughout two days of emotional statements from survivors and family members of victims, in which he was called "the personification of evil" and "a beast," Safarini had sat quietly, keeping his eyes cast downward.
In 18 years, he had never publicly declared his thoughts about his deeds.
Survivors and relatives said they were nervous as Safarini -- dressed in an orange prison jump suit and unshackled -- prepared to address them.
Sitting in the witness chair so he would be able to face the passengers and families, Safarini spoke first in Arabic -- which was translated into English by a translator -- and then repeated his lengthy written statement in near-perfect English.
Zayd Safrini took the witness chair so that he could be face to face with the survivors and families of the dead. And he said following –
"I am so sorry at what happened, so very very sorry… I take the responsibility for all the pain. My sorrow is from the depth of my heart. If you do not believe I am a person who has a heart, I accept that. I wish I had died on that plane. I am suffering ... I sit in my cell. I have no hope. No feeling. I known I will die by myself, that I will never see my family again… I don't hate America. Actually, I admire this country's customs, their traditions, their freedom ... When I did this, I believed I was helping the Palestinian people's dream of a homeland. Now I quite believe that the organization (Abu Nidal) -- this was not their aim. I know I was used, and so were the others. I was wrong. I was at fault. I was wrong, and the victims who fell were innocent people. I was brainwashed."
Safarini said he reached his conclusions and became a changed man from reading while he was imprisoned in Pakistan. There, he was released after serving a 15-year sentence, but was swiftly taken into custody by waiting FBI agents and flown to Washington.
Zayd Safrini’s crime amounted to capital punishment, a plea bargain filed by Safrini helped him escape his death sentence.
US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan approved the plea bargain and dropped the death penalty in exchange for a guilty plea, for which Safrini would receive three consecutive life sentences worth 160 years.
This seriously limited his chances of getting parole.
He was also sent to the Super Max federal prison in Colorado where he would have to spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement.
Safarini's sentencing in an American court 18 years after the crime was a lesson to terrorists that U.S. justice "never forgets."
Nothing is known about the other three hijackers of Pan Am 73 flight
Suggested Reading –
Facts Short Biography of Neerja Bhanot the pan am 73 purser
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Monday, February 29, 2016
Tags – Hijack Pan Am Flight 73 Terrorist Hijackers Information
29 February 2016
What Happened to Terrorist Hijackers of Neerja’s Pan Am Flight 73