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FBI offers US$5 million reward for plane hijackers

January 15, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

In a bid to generate new leads, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released new “age-progressed” images of four alleged hijackers involved in a murderous attack on a US airliner during an airport stopover.

The attack on Pan Am Flight 73 happened 32 years ago, on 5 September 1986 at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan. It resulted in the death of 20 passengers and crew, the attempted murder of 379 passengers and crew and the wounding of more than 100 people aboard.

The four suspects – Wadoud Muhammad Hafiz al-Turki, Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim, Muhammad Abdullah Khalil Hussain ar-Rahayyal and Muhammad Ahmed al-Munawar  – are believed to have been members of Abu Nidal, a Palestinian militant organisation.

They are said to have entered the aircraft disguised as airport security agents. Each of the men is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List and the case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Age-progressed photos of Wadoud Muhammad Hafiz al-Turki, Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim, Muhammad Abdullah Khalil Hussain ar-Rahayyal, and Muhammad Ahmed al-Munawar, who are wanted for their alleged roles in a 1986 attack in Pakistan

The aircraft, with 360 passengers aboard, had just arrived from Sahar International Airport in Mumbai and was preparing to depart Jinnah International Airport in Karachi for Frankfurt before continuing on to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

After the hijackers struck, security forces laid siege to the plane for 16 hours at Karachi airport. The passengers killed during a bloody shootout included nationals from India, the United States, Pakistan, and Mexico. A gripping account of the incident is given in this BBC report, which also looks at where some of the flight crew are today.

All the hijackers were arrested and sentenced to death in Pakistan, but the sentences were later commuted to life in prison. A fifth hijacker, Zayd Hassan Abd al-Latif Safarini was arrested by FBI agents in Bangkok on his way to Jordan and is serving a sentence of 160 years in a maximum security prison in Indiana.

In 2009, the FBI, in coordination with the US State Department, announced a USD 5 million reward for information that leads to the capture of each of the four remaining hijackers of Pan Am 73, who were reported to have been released from prison in Pakistan in 2008.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the FBI or submit a tip at https://tips.fbi.gov. The USD 5 million reward is offered through the US State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program.

“It’s always been an active case of ours,” said the lead FBI agent on the case. He said images of the suspects obtained by the FBI in the year 2000 were age-progressed by the FBI Laboratory.

“We’re hoping that with the age-progression photos next to the original photos maybe that will jar some memories or maybe someone has seen these guys walking around.”

“No matter how much time has passed or the obstacles we encounter,” the case agent said, “we owe it to the victims and their families to never give up on them.”

Written by Peter Needham

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