‘Fake’ terrorists arrested over diverted flight

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ON April 2, The Guardia Civil announced that three suspects have been detained linked to the diverting of a full passenger plane from Madrid airport after false terrorism threats were made. 

A total of 331 passengers and crew who were airborne and bound for Sao Paulo had to return to Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez airport on December 14 after the threats were made.

Following the dramatic events operation Tornare was launched by the Guardia Civil, focusing primarily on the central Spanish town of Cuenca where the original phone call was traced. Three people have now been charged with public order offences, a 44-year-old, 35-year-old and a 33-year-old after calculated losses of the diversion are estimated to be in excess of €200,000. 

The incident happened when airport operator AENA received a recorded phone call of a man’s voice, in Castilian and having an Arabic accent, who threatened travellers with phrases like “today people will die” and “Allah Akbar” (Allah is great). 

The necessary airline security protocols were then followed ensuring that the plane returned to the departure airport escorted by Royal Air Force fighter jets after an hour and a half of flight. Runways were closed for an hour and a half while the aircraft was thoroughly checked only to discover that, in fact, there were no bombs and the threat was false. 

Now exposed as fake terrorists, the three arrested had links to one passenger on the flight, who was refused entry to Switzerland and the Schengen area and was being forced to return home unwillingly.  

Proceedings are now underway in the Tarancon Court of Cuenca. 

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