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EgyptAir Crew Overpowers Hijacker

May 12, 2000

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ An Egyptian man claiming a jar of hair gel was a bomb tried Thursday to hijack an EgyptAir plane but was overpowered by the crew, airport officials said.

Flight 233 was on its way from Cairo to the popular southern tourist city of Aswan when Shaaban Ali tried to enter the cockpit, the officials said. When the plane landed in Aswan, Ali was handed over to police.

EgyptAir Chairman Mohammed Fahim Rayan said 19 passengers, including Ali, were aboard the Airbus 321. Earlier in the day, airport officials had said 165 people were on board.

``The hijacker tried to storm the cockpit while carrying a jar of gel, but since the door of the cockpit was locked according to regulations, he was not able to enter. Then, crew members were able to overpower him and handed him over to security men at Aswan Airport,″ Rayan said in a statement.

Investigators have learned that Ali is a 34-year-old wall painter, according to Transportation Minister Ibrahim el-Dimeiri.

``He doesn’t belong to any organizations, doesn’t have political affiliations and didn’t have any weapon on him″ the Middle East News Agency quoted el-Demeiri as saying.

On returning to Cairo, Capt. Bassem Badr el-Din told a news conference that Ali told the head flight attendant that he wanted to go to Afghanistan.

Ali was being questioned in Aswan, 500 miles south of Cairo, officials said.

On Oct. 19, an EgyptAir flight was commandeered between Istanbul, Turkey, and Cairo. Fathallah Khalaf, an Egyptian, apparently poked a pen into the neck of a crew member and forced the plane to fly to Germany, where he was overpowered and detained. None of the 46 passengers on board was harmed.

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