Two Seized After Bomb Threat on Jordanian Aircraft

Guards on board a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight seized two male passengers who threatened to blow up the plane but no bomb was found, the director of Abu Dhabi airport said on Sunday.

Khaled al-Muhairabi told the official Abu Dhabi Television station the men were being interrogated by United Arab Emirates officials and that their motives were unclear so far.

"It appears to be a one-off incident, a hoax," he said. "The plane and the passengers were thoroughly searched and nothing found on board so it was cleared and is continuing its journey."

The men were being held at Abu Dhabi International Airport and it was not yet clear whether they had been charged.

The flight, with 173 passengers and crew on board, was bound for Dubai from Amman via Abu Dhabi. Civil aviation officials confirmed the plane landed at Dubai airport but prevented the media from speaking to the passengers or crew.

Abu Dhabi's Muhairabi said one of the men was a Libyan while the other was a Jordanian. He did not name them but CNN, quoting airport officials, identified them as Mohammed Hussein and Abdu Nasser Faraj, in their 20s and 30s.

The incident occurred at a time of rising tension in the Gulf region as the United States threatens military action against Iraq if it does not disarm.

Gulf Arab states and Jordan have pledged their support to the United States in its war on terrorism since the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.

UAE officials said they would issue a statement on the incident later on Sunday.

"About 17 miles off Abu Dhabi, the pilot sent a warning saying there was a possible bomb on board. The plane landed, it and the passengers were searched and at about 7 a.m., it was declared clear. It was all a hoax," a UAE official added.^

The Jordanian embassy in Abu Dhabi declined to discuss the incident, referring all queries to Amman.

Two alleged operatives from the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden were arrested in Jordan earlier this month on suspicion of killing an American diplomat in Amman in October.

Muhairabi said the incident cause minor disruption to air traffic at the airport, which was light due to the early hour. Witnesses said officials initially cancelled all flights.

Royal Jordanian Airlines flight 602, an Airbus A-340, landed in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, early on Sunday. Abu Dhabi and all Gulf airports enforce tight security. Royal Jordanian Airlines usually has two sky marshals on board its planes.