Hijacked Japan Airlines 747 at Dubai Airport 1974. Photo by Jeff Smith
In 1970s and 1980s Dubai developed a reputation as the "Hijack Capital"! It was not deserved! Most of Dubai's Aircraft Hijackings started at other airports then either transited Dubai or came to an end in Dubai. What follows is a brief history of those hijackings.
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Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked five aircraft flying from Europe to USA. Four aircraft were diverted to an ex UK RAF Airstrip in Jordan known as Dawson's Field. Hijacking of the fifth aircraft was foiled. One of the Hijackers, Leila Khaled,was captured and handed over to the British Government.
On 9th September at Dubai Airport, a PFLP Sympathiser boarded a BOAC VC10 bound for London via Bahrain and Beirut. He hijacked the VC10 over Lebanon and diverted the aircraft to Dawson's Field. Demands were then made for the British Government to release Leila Khaled. Leila Khaled and all the Passengers were eventually released without any deaths or injuries. Many of the BOAC VC10's Passengers were expatriate children returning to school after the summer holidays. There a lot of worried parents particularly in Bahrain. But the children saw the hijack as an adventure. Dawson's Field took on a "party" atmosphere as Passengers were released as this historic video shows......
KLM Flight 861 was a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Tokyo-Haneda via Athens, Beirut and Delhi. Over Iraq the aircraft was hijacked by three members of the Arab Youth Organization for the Liberation of Palestine. They forced a landing at Damascus Airport then demanded to be flown to Nicosia, Cyprus where they demanded the release of seven Palestinian Prisoners. Their demands were not met so the Hijackers forced the Crew to fly to Tripoli, Libya. There they wanted to surrender provided they were free to leave the country. Libyan Authorities refused and blocked Tripoli's the main runway. KLM Crew managed to takeoff from the shorter runway and headed for Malta where, after failed negotiations, the Hijackers demanded to be flown to Baghdad.
Iraq refused to accept the aircraft as did Kuwait and Qatar. With the aircraft running out of fuel Dubai allowed the aircraft to land and refuel. KLM Flight 861 then flew to Aden, Yemen but they were refused permission to land so the aircraft returned to Dubai where Sheikh Mohammed began negotiations from Dubai Airport's Control Tower. He offered the Hijackers safe passage provided they did not harm the Passengers or the aircraft. Eventually the Hijackers agreed to Sheikh Mohammed's terms and surrendered. The Hijackers were flown from Dubai Airport by Helicopter.
It is not known what happened to the Hijackers after they left Dubai Airport in a Dubai Defence Force Airwing Helicopter.
Japan Air Lines Flight 404 was hijacked shortly after take off from Schiphol Airport by Palestinian and Japanese terrorists on July 23, 1973 en route to Tokyo International Airport. The aircraft was a Boeing 747-246B, with 123 Passengers and 22 Crew members on board. A grenade carried by one of the skyjackers detonated, killing her and injuring the flight's Chief Purser. The lead Hijacker announced himself to air traffic control as El Kassar who had hijacked the aircraft in the name of the Palestinian Liberation movement. Several Middle Eastern Governments refused landing permission for Flight. Eventually Flight 404 landed in Dubai. After several days on the ground, the Hijackers demanded the release of Kozo Okamoto, survivor of the JRA's attack on Tel Aviv's Lod Airport.
Israeli Government refused to release Okamoto so the Hijackers flew the aircraft first to Damascus, Syria and finally Benghazi, Libya. Eighty-nine hours after the hijacking began, the Passengers and Crew were released; the Hijackers then blew up the aircraft. Maruoka escaped and remained a fugitive until 1987 when he was arrested in Tokyo after entering Japan on a forged passport. Given a life sentence, he died in prison on 29 May 2011.
On the evening of 21 November 1974 Captain Jim Futcher and his Crew were at Dubai Airport awaiting the inbound flight from London to continue the BA870 schedule to the Far East. During the refuelling stop four men disguised as Airport Workers left the Passenger Lounge and ran towards the aircraft firing guns as they went. A Stewardess standing near the rear steps was hit but fortunately survived. On board the Hijackers realised the Captain was not on board and demanded he should get to the airplane or they would start shooting Passengers . Captain Futcher did not hesitate and made his way to the aircraft despite the airport's Security Officer urging him to stay out of sight. As he entered the aircraft he was met by a terrorist holding a gun to the head of a young New Zealander who greeted him with "Thanks for coming aboard Skipper". The aircraft took off with 27 Passengers, 8 Airport Workers who had been cleaning the interior and 10 Crew members.
Hijackers wanted to go to Beirut but the airport had been closed. The VC10 refuelled at Tripoli before landing at Tunis where it was surrounded by troops. The Hijackers decided to stick to their demand for the release of 7 Palestinians held in Cairo and Holland. They set a deadline 24 hours away and promised to execute a Passenger every two hours past that time. When no progress was visible after 24 hours they murdered a German Banker and dropped his body to the ground from the aft Passenger door. Negotiations resulted in the Cairo-held Hostages being brought to the plane in exchange for 7 Hostages. When the other two prisoners from Holland arrived the remaining Hostages were also released, leaving Captain Futcher, his Co-Pilot and Flight Engineer on board. Meanwhile the Hijackers had been informed their actions had been condemned from all sides and their request for asylum in Tunis denied. Captain Futcher did his best to reason with the Hijackers amidst their statements they were willing to die for their cause. Time passed and deadlines went but the Crew was still held inside with various explosives set around the cockpit. After an ordeal totalling 84 hours a Hijacker came to the cockpit but instead of the message the Crew was dreading, he informed them that they had decided to surrender.
Captain Futcher was extensively recognised for his heroism in this case and awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal. He passed away in 2008 aged 86.
On October 13, 1977, Lufthansa flight LH181 "Landshut", was hijacked by four PFLP Members belonging to "Commando Martyr Halime led by Zohair Youssif Akache, alias Captain Martyr Mahmud. LH181 was flying from Palma de Mallorca to Frankfurt with 91 Passengers and Crew. The aircraft changed course and landed in Rome for refueling. Mahmud demanded the release of eleven Red Army Fraction (a West-German terror group) terrorists detained in JVA Stuttgart-Stammheim Prison and 15 million US Dollars. LH181 continued its journey, landing in Larnaca, Bahrain and Dubai after being denied landing in other airports across the Arabian Peninsula.
On the Ground In Dubai
Approaching Dubai, they were refused landing permission. Overflying the airport in the early light of dawn the Hijackers could see the runway was blocked with trucks and fire engines. Running short of fuel Captain Schumann told Dubai Control Tower they would have to land anyway and, as they made a low pass over Dubai Airport, he saw the runway obstacles being removed. At 5:40 am (October 14) Co Pilot Vietor made a normal landing on Dubai Airport's main runway.
In Dubai, the Hijackers asked Dubai Airport Control Tower to supply water, food, medicine and newspapers and take away the garbage. Captain Jürgen Schumann was able to communicate the number of Hijackers onboard and that they comprised two men and two women. In an interview with journalists, this information was revealed by Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed, then Minister of Defense. Hijackers lheard this information – possibly from the radio, causing Mahmud to threaten to kill Captain Schumann. The aircraft remained on the ground at Dubai all through the day and night. The following morning Mahmud threatened to start shooting Hostages if the aircraft was not refueled. Dubai Authorities finally agreed. In the meantime, both Hans-Jürgen Wischnewski, the West German Minister responsible for handling the hijacking, and Colonel Ulrich Wegener, Commander of the elite German anti-terrorist squad GSG 9, arrived in Dubai to try to get Dubai Government to agree to let GSG 9 Commandos into Dubai to storm the aircraft. Although permission was granted for GSG 9 Commandos to storm the aircraft, SAS and GSG 9 senior operatives insisted on additional combat exercise and dry-runs on an adjacent airstrip. Reports suggest up to 2720 minutes (or 45 hours) of supplementary training was conducted whilst based in Dubai (over a period of 80 hours). While Wegener was considering his options, the FlightLH181 had completed its refueling and took off at 12:20 am (October 17) heading for Salalah, Oman, where landing was again denied so the Hijackers directed the aircraft to Aden, South Yemen.
Tragedy in Yemen
Aden's main runway was blocked by vehicles and the plane was running low on fuel. Captain Schumann had no choice but to land on a sand strip nearby. In order to verify the condition of the landing gear following the rough landing, Captain Schumann was allowed to temporarily leave the plane. But Schumann did not immediately return to the plane after the inspection even after numerous attempts to recall him and a threat to blow up the aircraft. Reasons for this prolonged absence are unclear. Some reports indicate Schumann notified Yemeni Authorities of the location of the Semtex explosives and was forced to remain in the control tower. On his return to the aircraft and after take-off, Mahmud shot Captain Schumann in the head, in the main Passenger cabin, before he had a chance to explain himself.
Published: October 4, 1982 ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Oct. 4 — An Iranian Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane was hijacked and flown to the Dubai Airport today but later left for an unknown destination, the official United Arab Emirates news agency reported.
The aircraft, with 79 people on board, landed at Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates, after the pilot radioed that he was short of fuel, the agency quoted official police sources as saying.
The agency said that after the plane landed, the control tower discovered the Hercules had been hijacked by unidentified people who sought permission to contact friends in the United States.
The agency said the Hijackers released some Passengers, including 26 children and 19 women, before the plane left Dubai. However, the total number of Passengers released was not immediately known.
The number of Hijackers was also not known.
The New York Times
No information located on hijacked Aircraft's final destination or Hijack outcome.
Four terrorists boarded Flight ME426 in Beirut, Lebanon enroute to Dubai where they changed flights, boarding Kuwait Airways Flight KU221 bound for Karachi, Pakistan. Three American Diplomats, William Stanford, Charles Hegna, and Charles Kapar were on board KU221. Shortly after take-off from Dubai, the terrorists hijacked KU221, forcing the aircraft to land in Tehran where it sat on the airport tarmac for several days during which the terrorists tortured the three American Diplomats, eventually murdering Hegna and Stanford. The stand-off ends after six days when Iranian Security Forces disguised as cleaners stormed the plane.
Families of the slain Diplomats sued Kuwait Airways and MEA for damages. These are Extracts from the Court Proceedings...
.....The three were employed by the United States Department of State, Agency for International Development, and were en route from Kuwait City to their base of operations in Karachi. KU221 stopped in Dubai to refuel and to pick up additional Passengers heading for Karachi. Passengers connecting to KU221 from other flights were required to take a bus on the tarmac to KU221 and climb a set of stairs to enter the jet through the forward door of the plane. Kuwait Airlines official placed a table at the top of the stairs leading to the forward door of flight KU221, where he checked connecting Passengers' carry-on luggage as they boarded. One witness, Neil Beeston, testified that he saw three of the four Hijackers standing on the tarmac near the unguarded-- and not in use-- rear stairs of the airplane during the boarding process. Other testimony established that the tarmac, in general, was poorly lit and not well guarded......
.....No one knows how the Hijackers got their weapons on board flight KU221. There was no direct evidence that they had weapons in their possession on board MEA flight 426 or, later, when they boarded flight KU221. On the other hand, there was also no evidence that the weapons were already on board flight KU221 when the Hijackers boarded. Plaintiffs showed that no weapons were found when KU221 was routinely cleaned at Dubai, that no Passengers disembarked while the plane waited for about an hour on the tarmac at Dubai, and that all panels in the plane remained undisturbed. In addition, there was evidence that it was a common practice in the Middle East to allow one Passenger to check in for a number of other Passengers, thus allowing armed Passengers to avoid contact with airline officials......
Indian Airlines Flight 814 (VT-EDW) with 178 Passengers on board (mostly Indian Nationals) flying back to India after vacationing in Nepal was hijacked on December 24, 1999, shortly after the aircraft entered Indian airspace at about 17:30 IST. It was the start of an eight day drama that continues to have an impact today. Dubai played a critical part in this hijack. Natonal Geographic's three part video portrays these events.
An Egyptian Passenger carrying a forged passport tried to hijack a London-bound Pakistani plane during a stopover in Dubai, police and airline officials said Monday.
They said the unnamed man was overpowered by police in Sunday's incident on board the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight from Karachi.
The Passenger pulled out a butter knife and grabbed an oxygen bottle and ordered the pilot to take off for London after refusing to submit his passport for a routine security check of documents, PIA area manager Shahid Latif told AFP.
He said Dubai police were not filing charges against the man, who was accompanied by a pregnant wife and two children, and that he was to be deported back to Karachi for carrying a forged Belgian passport.
The London flight took off after a delay of three and a half hours.
One of the many routes for illegal entry into Britain is Dubai because of its high number of international transit flights and onward connections, a British embassy official said -- DUBAI (AFP)
Eve was a Crossword Addict. She was a UK Daily Telegraph Crossword Addict to be exact. Eve also worked for BOAC at Dubai Airport where she organised Passengers embarking on BOAC Flights. Up to date newspapers were non existent in Dubai in the 1970s. Newspapers on sale in Jashanmals were generally several days old. But Eve knew where to lay her hands on a current edition of the Daily Telegraph - onboard incoming BOAC Flights! She had developed the technique of running across the tarmac and on to the BOAC Aircraft as soon as arriving Passengers left the aircraft. There she would be handed a copy of "today's" Daily Telegraph by the Crew and then hurry back to the Departure Lounge to organise her Boarding Passengers.
On the evening of 21 November 1974 Eve did what she had become practised at doing. She hurried on board BOAC Flight BA870 to collect "today's" Daily Telegraph. But on this occasion as she laid hands on er cherished newspaper, four armed Hijackers made their way on board firing guns as they did so. Eve soon found she was flying out of Dubai enroute to she didn't know where. BA870's destination was, in the end, Tunis. The upside was Eve had plenty of time to complete her crossword until she flew home several days later. The downside was she now had second thoughts about the importance of "today's" Daily Telegraph and its Crossword. They could be dangerous!
A Kipper is a Smoked Herring
Bacon is Banned in Dubai but Kippers are not.
Lilly was an excellent Cook and a lover of food. Not being able to get her favourite foods in Dubai was frustrating. She missed Pork in all its forms. Sale of Pork was prohibited in Dubai in the 1970s. Her other favourite food was not prohibited but simply not available in Dubai's Food Store - it was Kippers.
But Lilly had found how to overcome the problem - at least for a short time. Each year Lilly and her husband flew back to UK for their annual leave. They always took two full suitcases and one empty suitcase. At the end of their leave Lilly would buy Pork Joints, Pork Chops, Pork Sausages and any other Pork products she fancied plus a sizeable stock of Kippers. These Lilly packed into the "empty" suitcase ready for the flight back to Dubai. Lilly reasoned the suitcase would be kept cool in the aircraft's hold and its contents survive the short drive from Dubai Airport to their Jumeirah home where their supplies could be frozen.
This had worked well for Lilly until they boarded BOAC Flight BA870 in London for their return to Dubai. They disembarked BA870 in Dubai and then waited for their luggage - and waited and waited. Slowly the news filtered through - BA870 had been hijacked. Unbeknown to Lilly her luggage was already enroute to Tunis. A week or so later there was a knock on Lilly's front door. It was a Courier delivering Lilly's Luggage. Lilly had bought good quality luggage - the suitcase had not allowed the developing colourfull range of odours from the rotting Pork and Kippers to escape, that is until Lilly opened the suitcase.
Lilly's husband retired before their next leave. They returned to UK where Pork and Kippers were readily available but apparently Lilly had lost her taste for both Pork and Kippers.