A Turkish passenger on a Turkish Airlines flight from Oslo to Istanbul tried to hijack the plane before being overpowered by other passengers Wednesday, security sources said quoted by Turkish media.
The would-be hijacker, named as Yasar Cuma, who comes from a Kurdish village in the southeastern region of Anatolia, headed for the cockpit of the Boeing 737-800 less than an hour before arrival at Istanbul and demanded that the aircraft return to Oslo, claiming to have a bomb.
But the 40-year-old was tackled by Turkish and Norwegian passengers and the plane landed safely at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport at 1930 GMT, CNN-Turk and Anatolia news agency reported.
The suspect was immediately arrested on board the plane which was carrying 59 passengers. No explosive device was found, CNN-Turk said.
After police interrogated Cuma they found he was suffering from psychological problems, Anatolia said.
Passenger Salim Tahar told Norway’s TV2 Nyhetskanalen: “We were 50 minutes away from touchdown when I heard a lot of noise at the back of the plane. I turned round and there was a person who had his face covered, was wearing a cap and had dark clothes. Basically, he looked like a terrorist.”
The person started to shout, said the passenger, and he had an object clamped to his body, but Tahar could not be sure it was a bomb or a weapon.
A female passenger told Tahar that the would-be hijacker was demanding — probably in Turkish — that the aircraft return to Oslo.
Tahar said the crew moved the passengers to the front of the plane which reached Istanbul more quickly than scheduled.
At the airport as the passengers rushed off the plane between 20 and 30 policemen moved in and arrested Cuma.
“Some passengers made the sign of the cross, others prayed. The people were very nervous,” Tahar was quoted as saying.