Crewman Who Foiled Hijacker In Serious Condition with Bullet Wound
GENEVA (AP) _ The flight attendant who overpowered a Lebanese terrorist after the hijacker killed a passenger was in serious condition today with a bullet wound in the stomach, authorities said.
The terrorist, identified as Hussein Ali Mohammed Hariri, was in the maximum security wing of a Geneva prison, awaiting trial on charges including hostage-taking and murder.
Swiss authorities said the hijacker of the Air Afrique jetliner had hoped to win the release of two brothers, Lebanese terrorist suspects, imprisoned in West Germany.
The steward, whose name authorties have refused to provide, underwent a three-hour operation after putting an end to Friday’s piracy.
Josef Hermann, spokesman for the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office, said Hariri had wanted to win the release of the Hamadi brothers, who were arrested in West Germany in January.
One of the brothers, Mohammed Ali Hamadi, is wanted in the United States in connection with the 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner to Beirut. A U.S. Navy diver was killed and 39 Americans held hostage during the 17-day ordeal. West Germany last month refused a U.S. request for Hamadi’s extradition, but said it would try him on charges of hijacking and murder.
Hariri told interrogators he was alone and did not act on behalf of any organization, Hermann said.
But Hariri’s relatives, who spoke to The Associated Press in Lebanon on condition of anonymity, said Hariri was a member of the radical Shiite Moslem organization Hezbollah. The pro-Iranian group is believed linked to Shiite Moslem groups holding foreign hostages in Lebanon.
A Lebanese security source said Hariri was arrested in 1984 in Israel on charges related to terrorism, but was released last May.
Geneva Police Chief Bernard Ziegler said Hariri boarded the plane at Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, where no security checks were made at the airport,
The plane, a DC-10, had been on a flight from Brazzaville, Congo, to Paris, with stops in Bangui and Rome. Hijacked on the Rome-Paris leg, it carried a crew of 15 and 148 passengers, including 64 Frenchmen and two Americans.
French pilot Edouard Artizzu said the plane was commandeered over Northern Italy when Hariri fired two shots into the cockpit. Hariri ordered the plane be landed and refueled for a flight to Beirut, Artizzu said.
Artizzu said Hariri ordered the passengers’ passports collected. The gunman then took Xavier Beaulieu, 29, to the first-class compartment of the plane, which he had ordered cleared before, and shot him without witnesses.
Beaulieu was shot in the mouth with a 7.65-caliber pistol, said airport security chief Roland Troyon, who had negotiated with the hijacker.
Artizzu said that at one point the gunman threatened to kill a second passenger unless the plane took off for Beirut immediately. He was talked out of it by Nabil Ramlawi, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s mission in Geneva, according to a senior French customs official. The official, who declined to be identified, said Ramlawi was in radio contact with the hijacker from the control tower.
While police tightened a cordon around the plane, an announcement inside that it would soon leave for Beirut made passengers realize the ″time had come to act,″ said passenger Michel Gregoire, a 37-year-old Frenchman.
While the hijacker was in the front section, passengers managed to open at least four doors in the rear and above the wing and began jumping or sliding down the escape chute to safety.
″It was the only moment when there was panic aboard because everybody wanted to leave at the same time,″ Gregoire said.
In the confusion, the steward jumped Hariri and succeeded, despite his bullet wound, in overpowering the gunman with the help of another attendant and holding him until police entered the plane, Ziegler said.
The gunman was seen dragged down a stairway from the plane to a police van that took him to Champ-Dollon Prison on the outskirts of Geneva.
The drama lasted about five hours. Thirty passengers were injured while escaping, including 10 who remained hospitalized with bone fractures.
Geneva’s Prosecutor General, Bernard Corboz, said Hariri would be tried in Switzerland on charges of hostage-taking and murder, which carry a maximum sentence of life.