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Northwest Airlines Flight to India Forced Back to Amsterdam

***Scroll to see updates***

Dutch F-16s intercepted the flight and escorted it back to Amsterdam:

A Mumbai bound Northwest Airlines plane had to be escorted by fighter planes back to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

Just as the flight made it over German skies, the pilot radioed in the Air Traffic Control at Schiphol asking for military escort. Two US Marshals on board were suspicious after the unruly behaviour of some passengers.

Some passengers were taken in for questioning, while others checked into local hotels.
Last year, a British Airways flight returned to Schiphol under similar circumstances. It later turned out to be a false alarm.

After the August 10 terror scare over British skies, few agencies are taking any chances. For harried passengers it is not the same anymore flying across the globe.

Fox News reports that 12 people were arrested. Here's the story from Reuters on the arrests.

Update: The 12 men were Asian? The air marshals became suspicious of these guys and told the pilot and crew to divert the plane.

Update II: Mary Katharine is all over this story and notes that the arrests combined with the air marshals getting involved means this incident is a bit more serious than the previous false alarms.

Update III: According to Tim Nelson who was on the plane, 10 of the 12 men arrested appeared to be of "Pakistani or Middle Eastern descent":

Dutch police spokesman Rob Staenacker told the AP that he couldn't disclose the nationalities of those arrested Wednesday or the nature of the suspicions against them. Nelson said he watched Dutch police come aboard in threes and escort a dozen men, 10 of them appearing to be of Pakistani or Middle Eastern descent, from the plane one by one in a remote parking area at the airport.

``Some they handcuffed before they took them out,'' he said. ``One guy was a white guy, with a tie-dyed shirt, a beard and dreadlocks. He looked like a hippie. There was an older man who appeared to be of Indian descent.''

A few of the others had beards, and some were dressed in shalwar kameez - traditional long shirts and baggy pants, Nelson said.

The incident was the latest of several terror alerts and flight diversions in the two weeks since British police shut down an alleged Islamic plot to smuggle liquid explosives aboard aircraft and detonate them, possibly with cell phones.

Update: IV: Dutch authorities say that the 12 men pose no terrorism threat and will be released. They apparently were refusing to follow directions, passing cell phones and laptops around, and generally making a ruckus.

Comments (16)

Better be on the safe side.... (Below threshold)

Better be on the safe side...
Bottom line is though that we are still very VULNERABLE here in the US. We, the citizens, must be proactive and take responsibility for our own lives and the lives of our loved ones. Being PREPARED can be the difference between life and death. And it can be as simple as carrying a Breath of Life mask. Check it out at http://www.technonllc.com/pd1

Nice plug. You take the "br... (Below threshold)

Nice plug. You take the "breath of life mask" and I'll take an M-4 with a couple thousand rounds of ammo.

"Update: The 12 men were As... (Below threshold)

"Update: The 12 men were Asian? The air marshals became suspicious of these guys and told the pilot and crew to divert the plane."

Is that meant to be information? A flight headed to Mumbai will have Asians on it. Many Asians.
Once again Asians could mean Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Iranians, Pakistanis.
It sounds the people who say such things live in caves. Its like saying they had two eyes. I never like people clubbing such diverese communities together.
Well glad to know nothing abd happened.

MU,When you're done ... (Below threshold)

When you're done breathing into a sandwich bag, follow the links. It might make more sense.

I'd like to know what "arre... (Below threshold)

I'd like to know what "arrested" means. As Americans we might assume it means they had something to arrest them *for*, but this is Europe so I wouldn't want to make that assumption.

I do think that Air Marshalls are more likely to respond to behavior rather than appearance than families on holiday, I wonder if the Asians were "scruffy" or conversing in their own language? I just can't get the picture of Harry Potter's aunt and uncle out of my head when I read about that flight from Spain. I can just about hear Mr. Dursely pontificating about people who wear purple robes in public while Mrs. Dursley comforts Duddlykins over his "scare."

Not that there aren't really terrorists who really want to blow people up. Certainly there are.

And this from the linked article... "The Dutch secret service AIVD warned in March that the war in Iraq and the presence of Dutch troops in Afghanistan might motivate possible attacks and encourage the recruitment of home-grown Islamist militants."

People who look for excuses to do you harm don't need them. It's pure wishful thinking to attribute terrorist activity to cause and effect, that if you just don't *do* certain things they'll leave you alone.

But then a lot of battered wives are convinved it's their fault, too. Just don't make him mad and he'll leave you alone.

Well I have a more fundamen... (Below threshold)

Well I have a more fundamental question -- Why were US Marshalls doing on the flight?

If the flight originated in the US landing in Amsterdam that makes sense. But the leg Amsterdam to India? What makes that US jurisdiction? I would think that just becuase it is a US flag carrier does not qualify.

If the Marshalls were 'in pursuit' based on probable cause they could make the detention in Amsterdam. If they did not have probable cause to detain then they probably did not have cause to pursue. Just an observation.

Or is it now that the US is the Airborne Sheriff of the World?

JohnMc, do you think the fa... (Below threshold)

JohnMc, do you think the fact that the planes were owned and operated by a U.S. airline might have something to do with it? Otherwise, we would, indeed, need International Sheriffs to ride herd on the islamoslobs.

JohnMc: It has been a de fa... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

JohnMc: It has been a de facto standard since the 1970s that the airline's home country has universal jurisdiction on board the aircraft itself when it comes to potential hijacking. For instance, several times Cubans have hijacked Cuban airline flights to the U.S. In every such case that I'm aware of, the hijackers were returned to Cuba. If the airliner is operated by a U.S. airline, then the U.S. marshals were within their jurisdiction to make arrests on board the aircraft. I'm not sure who would have had jurisdiction once the flight landed and Dutch authorities were able to enter the aircraft. I'm thinking the guys would have been handed off to the Dutch at that point.

However, I'll have to admit that I'm confused about some aspects of this. U.S. airlines currently do not have "fifth freedom" rights in Europe, meaning that a U.S. airline cannot schedule a flight that originates in Europe and lands in a third country. So, as near as I can figure, U.S. marshals should not have been on the flight in the first place. I'm not sure what's up with that.

Just the fact that Fox News... (Below threshold)
Steve Savage:

Just the fact that Fox News is all over this case is pretty much an indicator that its not as bad as it seems.

I suspect the people will get investigated, everybody will figure out it was just overreacting, and the story will quietly die.

Because if it was as bad as... (Below threshold)

Because if it was as bad as it seems Fox News would be ignoring it. ;-)

Frankly, I'd be surprised if it turns out there was anything to it... arresting the white hippy with dreadlocks along with the Asian men is rather interesting so I could be wrong.

'Northwest Airlines Flight ... (Below threshold)

'Northwest Airlines Flight to India Forced Back to Amsterdam'

Hey! Go Back! We forgot the hash!

"Just the fact that Fox ... (Below threshold)

"Just the fact that Fox News is all over this case is pretty much an indicator that its not as bad as it seems."


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - The interrogation of 12 men who were removed from a Northwest Airlines flight after they aroused the suspicions of air marshals and crew produced no evidence of terrorism, the Justice Ministry said Thursday

Good old Faux News - Where news and spin are woven into a rich tapestry of deceit...

The Dutch have F-16s?... (Below threshold)

The Dutch have F-16s?

Lee, you trogIf you ... (Below threshold)

Lee, you trog
If you went to CNN, BBC or NBC etc at the time, they said the same thing as Fox.
If you go to Fox now, since the update was released today, you'll get the same info you posted above.

If you're going to accuse somebody of lying, try having some proof. And not just the voices in your head.

Further, what you left out,... (Below threshold)

Further, what you left out, and is in the AP report that most outlets are quoting (interesting that you fail to cite... not)

Dutch prosecutors on Thursday continued to interrogate the 12 men who were handcuffed and taken off the flight because U.S. air marshals and the crew believed they were acting suspiciously.

Authorities have three days to bring the suspects before a judge to seek further detention.

I swear that Lee is really ... (Below threshold)

I swear that Lee is really an Aussie named Mark Tindale that trolls on usenet news. Well, okay, probably not because he doesn't cut and paste everything but other behaviors are so similar... like crowing "Bingo!" when someone says something he likes, no matter how illogical, and making entirely content free and repetitious comments.

You'd *think* that if it was so fun to hear things a person liked to hear that they'd hang out with like minded people, people who didn't call them idiots or trolls. (Some people like the discussion... I think mantis likes the discussion, but then mantis doesn't make content free posts, generally.)

So I've got a theory... I think it's because on a "friendly" blog or newsgroup a person can't pretend that people are reacting poorly to you because they are close minded morons. If I'm right, then this is a safe place for Lee and others like him.

Steve, the slam on Fox is gratuitous. All the networks covered this. YES it was probably nothing.






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