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Two Terrorist Suspects Detained in Middle East

Aired December 22, 2002 - 21:03   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Carol Lin at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We do have more now on the passenger or passengers carrying what was suspected to be a bomb on board a Royal Jordanian air flight. Right now on the telephone I'm joined by Caroline Faraj. She is a editor stationed in Dubai with the latest on this situation. Caroline, I understand you know more about exactly what happened onboard that plane and who these suspects are.

CAROLINE FARAJ, CNN ARABIC EDITOR-IN-CHIEF (via telephone): Yes, Carol, our sources told us right now that an Air Bus 340 was heading from Jordan towards Abu Dhabi and Flight 602 and before landing 3:10 local time, two passengers, they are Libyan nationals, one of them in his 30s and the second in his 20s. They told the office that they are carrying a bomb and they threatened that they are going to explode the whole plane.

So, immediately the security onboard, they came and they took them aside. They searched what they've got and they kept everything inside and apparently they did not have anything at all. Now, the plane managed to land safely and now the officials are doing their own investigating with them to find out the motives behind why they did that and whether they are also a part of a group or anything -- Carol.

LIN: Caroline, could you paint a fuller picture of exactly what happened onboard? Was there a struggle? Who are these security onboard?

FARAJ: Well, Carol, the security onboard, they're Jordanians. This is actually what the Jordanians are always doing. They have their own security guards onboard on each flight. At least they have four to five members of the army there always on the flights, all the flights, whatever (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

So, these people, apparently there wasn't actually a big issue or the rest of the passengers did not notice that much because immediately when they mentioned that to the office, the office informed the security and they took them aside quietly. Definitely what I've heard from my sources as well that the passengers sitting nearby these two passengers definitely they knew but they kept it in a very quiet way and the plane managed to do the landing peacefully. It was exactly a few minutes before landing -- Carol.

LIN: And, again, did they find a bomb? FARAJ: No, they did not find anything at all with them and that's why now they're conducting the investigation to find out exactly the motives behind what they've done -- Carol.

LIN: Do they know anything about their background, who these men are, if they have a criminal history, mental problems?

FARAJ: According to the sources, what they're saying it's too early now to comment or to tell us anything about these two. The only thing that we managed to get is that they are Libyan nationals, one in his 30s and the second one in his 20s. They also said that one of the passengers was headings toward Dubai because the flight was stopping over in Abu Dhabi and then after that will continue the next leg to Dubai and then from Dubai it will take the rest of the passengers and continue back to Jordan.

And, we repeat that the plane is A-340, which is a big one, Air Bus A-340, a big one taking passengers from two destinations in the United Arab Emirates. None of the UAE officials commented up to now. It's too early. It's 6:00 a.m. local time -- Carol.

LIN: Caroline, and for our domestic audience here, can you give us some context of what potentially may be the significance of their national origins, the fact that they were Libyan nationals flying a Jordanian airline. Is there anything that we can cull from that?

FARAJ: Not really, Carol. What we gather from the sources is that Libyans are usually taking Royal Jordanian for several reasons, because they have different destinations. They have flights as well between the two capitals and this is the usual thing. We don't have more details about this issue -- Carol.

LIN: All right, so their nationality is not necessarily significant in this particular situation?

FARAJ: Not really, not really, but as you recall Carol also one of the nationals that was actually -- they managed to capture a few days ago who was actually detained because of the diplomat, the U.S. diplomat in Jordan was also a Libyan national -- Carol.

LIN: All right, very interesting. Thank you very much Caroline Faraj with CNN, an editor based in Dubai. Very quickly, two Libyan nationals have been detained after threatening that they were carrying a bomb onboard a Royal Jordanian flight, which was in flight, a flight that was going from Amman and eventually to arrive in Abu Dhabi.

All the passengers are safe. There was no bomb found onboard. We will have much more on this developing story on our big show, which starts at ten o'clock Eastern in less than an hour.


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