Northwest Flight Bound for Mumbai Diverted to Amsterdam, Escorted by F-16s

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Aug 23, 2006 8:11 AM

Scroll for updates...12 passengers arrested...

Yep, it's another one. Very few details right now:

Two Dutch fighter planes accompanied a U.S. Northwest Airlines plane bound for Mumbai back to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on Wednesday, officials said.

A Dutch air traffic control spokeswoman said the plane was in German airspace when it turned back. A spokeswoman for Schiphol said the pilot had taken the decision to turn back but could give no further details...

Dutch news agency ANP quoted police as saying a number of people had been taken off the Northwest plane and were being questioned. Airport information said none of the passengers on the plane were being allowed to leave yet.

Northwest Airlines said the plane was bound for Mumbai and declined to comment further. An air traffic control spokeswoman said the flight was NW0042, a 273-seat DC10-30 plane.

Another report called it a "light threat":

The pilot of the aircraft radioed Schiphol for permission to return and a military escort as it was flying over Germany shortly after leaving Amsterdam, said spokeswoman Pamela Kuypers.

Rick Hirs, a spokesman for the customs police at Schiphol, said it was not clear why the plane had returned. "We don't know yet. We are interviewing passengers and crew members," he said.

Hirs said nobody on the plane had been arrested, and there were no injuries.

The Dutch National Terrorism Coordinator's Office had been informed of the incident but said there was no cause to raise the national threat level, said spokeswoman Judith Sluiter.

"It is the same as it was before - light threat," said Sluiter.

Update: Passengers are being questioned.

and authorities later detained several passengers for questioning, an airport spokeswoman said.

Spokeswoman Mirjam Snoerwang said she had no further details on the reason for the incident, but the passengers had been escorted from the plane by customs police after the plane landed safely.

"A number of suspects were taken off the plane - I don't know how many. They're undergoing questioning now," Snoerwang said.

Flashback: Hugh covered the train-bombings in Mumbai in July. 

Update: This is interesting. In Google-searching for Mumbai references, I turned this up, which hit the wire a couple hours before the plane story.

Police killed a Pakistani man and arrested another in a shootout yesterday that authorities said foiled a terrorist attack in India's financial capital a month after a series of train bombings that left more than 200 people dead.

Mohammed Riyaz Nawabuddin was arrested after detonators, a pistol and ammunition were recovered from his car, police investigator K.P. Raghuvanshi said.

A second Pakistani national, identified as Mohammed Ali Osama, was killed in the building after he opened fire on police who had ordered him to surrender.

Update 12:24pm: Fox reports twelve of the passengers on the flight are now under arrest in Amsterdam. That's the first update I've heard since this morning. There's been no statement from the government or the airline, and there's no word on what the arrests were for.  

Update 12:33pm: No nationalities given for passengers detained, police not releasing statement on arrests. Very quiet, everyone is.

Update 12:51pm: Fox is reporting that it heard from a witness that some of the arrested passengers were using cell phones in some way on the plane. Skepticism high on that report. We'll see what the official reports say.

Allah notes that the guys who noticed the "suspicious behavior" were U.S. Air Marshals. That, combined with actual arrests makes this look a little more serious than the false alarms of the past couple weeks. 

And, now I'm gonna eat a Quarter-Pounder, but I'll try not to miss anything.